"I found NJP Solicitors to be very knowledgeable and compassionate, which was appreciated during such a tough time. Knowledge and experience are key so I would never attempt to tackle such matters any other way."
Proactive family law experts who’ll fight your corner
Time is of the essence when it comes to care proceedings. With only 26 weeks to show the court you can adequately care for your children, you can’t afford to waste time on a solicitor who doesn’t have the expertise or ability to fight your case with the commitment and determination you deserve. At NjP, our solicitors have over 25 years of experience in the legal sector, specialising in family law, so we understand what’s needed to achieve the best outcome for our clients. We know there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to your children and family circumstances, so we treat every case as unique and have helped hundreds of parents like you to you find a positive way forward.
Free legal advice and representation with Legal Aid
Don’t be. You’re entitled to free legal advice and representation. It doesn’t matter what your income is or how much you have in the bank, all parents involved in care proceedings are entitled to this free legal support, and you won’t have to worry about any means-testing.
No judgement – only unwavering support
The legal profession can feel intimidating. The fear of judgement from people who haven’t walked in your shoes can feel all-encompassing. But having unanswered questions and not knowing where you stand can have a detrimental impact on your mental well-being and your case. At NjP Solicitors, we ensure you feel comfortable and at ease throughout and will never judge you or your situation. We’ll make sure everything is explained to you clearly, and without legal jargon, so you never feel left in the dark.
Child Proceedings FAQs
In some circumstances the Local Authority may believe that a child is a risk of significant harm in the parent(s) current care and will ask that parents sign a section 20 agreement, for permission for that child to stay with a family member, in foster care or in residential care. This is a short-term measure whilst the parent(s) carry out the recommended work or the Local Authority will decide whether Care Proceedings need to be issued.
A Section 20 agreement can be withdrawn at any time, although we would usually advise a parent to give the local authority a week’s notice. If notice is given, the local authority will then need to decide whether to issue proceedings or return the child to their parents care.
When the Local Authority has concerns about the care that a child is receiving, they will hold a meeting with the parents to identify what support is needed to reduce the concerns. Before the meeting you will be given a letter to give to your solicitor with a summary of the concerns. It will also list what they need the parents to do to reduce the concerns.
We would strongly advise parents to work with the Local Authority as this is the final step before the Local Authority issue care proceedings and may ask for your child to be removed from your care.
In order for the local authority to remove your child(ren) from your care, they will need to obtain a Court Order. They will usually ask the court for an Interim Care Order and for the child(ren) to be place into foster care or with a friend or family member. In some cases, the child can remain at home under an interim care order.
An Interim Care Order is a temporary order which lasts the duration of the proceedings and allows the Local Authority to share parental responsibility for your child. If this Order is granted, then the Court will be decided where your child should live, who your child will have contact with and what needs to be done before the final hearing. This will include assessments, reports and statements.
The Local Authority must always encourage contact between children and their parents unless the concerns are so serious that it would place the child at risk. The arrangements for contact will normally be agreed between you, the Local Authority and the child’s Guardian.
At the beginning of the care proceedings, the parents will be asked to give contact details of any friends or family members who can look after the child. They will need to have an initial viability assessment normally prepared by the social worker. Initial viability assessment’s will include police checks and searches of social care records to make sure that the placement is safe and secure and that the child will be looked after appropriately.
If this assessment is positive the social worker will prepare a detailed assessment, referred to a ‘Form C assessment’. This a more in-depth thorough assessment of the friend or family member. Although the proposed person will be assessed to care for the child during the care proceedings, it may be that they will be asked to care for the child until they are at least 18 years old.
If the child is placed with a family member during the care proceedings, you will keep your parental responsibility. However, as the chid will be subject to an Interim Care Order or final Care Order you will share your parental responsibility with the Local Authority. We would advise parents to work with the Local Authority to ensure the health and wellbeing of the child.
If the child remains living with the friend/ family member under a Special Guardianship Order, then the person who is named as the Special Guardian will receive parental responsibility for the child. They will make the final decisions for the child as their parental responsibility will override the parent’s parental responsibility.
The Local Authority may ask the Court for a Supervision Order. A Supervision Order requires the Local Authority to assist, befriend and support the child, while still living in the family home, to make sure that the child is well care for. Supervision Orders are for a set period of up to one year, usually 6 months or 12 months. In some circumstances, it may be extended each year for a total of three years if there are ongoing concerns.
If at least 6 months has passed since a final care order was made, then anyone with parental responsibility for that child can apply to discharge a care order. This person must show that they have made a significant change to their circumstances and that it is in the child’s best interests for them to return home. The Court will then assess the current risk to the child. The Court can decide to replace the Care Order with a Supervision Order.
If the local authority have seen unusual injuries to a child they will ask for the child to be seen by a doctor. The doctor will ask the parent(s) how the injury was caused when examining the child. They will then determine whether your explanation is consistent with the injury. The doctor may say the injury was non-accidental, accidental or inconclusive. If the doctor concludes that the injury was caused non-accidental the Local Authority will issue care proceedings and ask for your child(ren) to be remove from your care until there is further evidence.
During the care proceedings, independent medical experts will be instructed to assist the court in establishing the cause of the injury. The type of expert to be instructed will depend on the nature of the injuries. Further evidence will also be gathered such as police records, medical records and statements from those who care for the child. This information will assist the Judge to determine whether the injuries are non-accidental and if so, who the perpetrator is or whether there is a pool of perpetrators (more than one person). This will be done by holding a fact-finding hearing where the court hears evidence from all relevant people including the medical experts and the parents.
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You and your family deserve the best representation from people who genuinely care about your situation. Book a call with NjP Solicitors today and get the supportive, expert legal advice you need to achieve the best outcome for you and your children.