If social services are concerned about your children, they can
• Organise a Child Protection Conference
• Ask you to attend a pre-proceedings meeting with a Solicitor
• Make an application to Court
Free non-means, non-merits tested Legal Aid is available to parents involved in care proceedings or pre-proceedings.
Pre-proceedings meetings are held where social services concerns are so serious, they are considering issuing Court proceedings. They can be difficult experiences for parents but offer a chance to try and reach a plan to work with social services to avoid the need for Court proceedings.
Court applications social services can bring include
• Care Orders/Interim Care Orders
• Emergency Protection Orders
If Social Services consider your child may be at risk of significant harm, they can apply to Court for Orders. The Court will look at their plans and whether, if the children are at risk, the plans are in the children’s best interests. These plans may include placing a child with another family member or in foster care.
The Court aims to conclude all proceedings within 26 weeks (6 months) and, while the case is ongoing assessments are carried out to find out more about the parents and the children. The Court appoints a Guardian who is independent from social services to help the Court understand what is in the best interests of the children.
The Local Authority must make arrangements for children in care to see their parents unless the Court has authorised them not to.
Gemma Duckworth is a member of the Law Society Children Panel reflecting her expertise in proceedings involving children. She acts for parents and children and has over twenty years of experience acting in cases involving children.
Expert legal representation is very important to guide you through the process, to speak on your behalf at Court and to help consider any steps you can take to help your case.
Please contact us now to see how we can assist you.