Experienced Child Care Law specialists
If a child is considered to be at risk, or the subject of child care proceedings, our solicitors can help you. Our family law team represent parents, family members, and carers of children in proceedings. We can also act on behalf of the child involved.
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What are Child Care Proceedings?
Child Proceedings are initiated when Social Services apply to the Court to determine if your child should be legally protected from any potential danger and to what extent they are under harm. This could be for a number of reasons including both physical and emotional harm, and neglect. Physical harm could be from hitting, biting, and physical punishment to name but a few examples. Emotional harm may include threatening behaviour, exposing the child to explicit or scary situations and people, as well as making the child feel unwanted. Proceedings may also come into play when a child is considered beyond parental control.
What is the Child Care Proceedings process?
At the start of Care Proceedings, the local authority will apply to the family court for an ‘interim care order’. This is a temporary care order which allows the local authority to take a child into care for up to 8 weeks whilst care proceedings are ongoing, but it can be renewed after that for up to 28 days at a time. The order is decided at the first hearing, usually a week after the application has been made.
The Court will also schedule a ‘case management hearing’, which is held on the 12th day after the application is made to the Court. The hearing can take place before the Magistrates, a District Judge or a Circuit Judge. This hearing is to set out a timetable of dates and to make plans and decisions about the future of your child. For example the social workers will have to tell the court about any work they want to do with you to assess if it is safe for your child to return home or to stay at home. The Court will set a date for a further hearing which will be towards the latter end of the 26 week period.
Once all of the parties have put together their assessments, reports and statements then there will be the further Court hearing which is called an ‘issues resolution hearing’. The main purpose of this hearing is to let the Court know whether the plans for a child are agreed or not. If a plan is agreed by everyone then the case can conclude at this hearing. If the plan isn’t agreed then the Court will be asked to list the case for a final hearing. The final hearing is to take place within 26 weeks of the application being put before the Court. A final hearing can be listed for any length of time depending upon how complex your case is. It is at this hearing that a Court will make a final decision about your child.
Our Child Care Law specialists
Who can Switalskis represent?
Parents and carers:
If you have parental responsibility over a child, then it is necessary to obtain professional legal advice to ensure that the complexities of proceedings are dealt with properly. Our family law solicitors have years of experience in representing these types of cases, with a wide and thorough knowledge of this area of law. We understand how stressful and sensitive this time in your life can be. Our team are friendly and understanding, and offer the support you need to ensure that you feel properly represented after your case.
Grandparents and other family members:
If you are concerned about how your grandchild or a child related to you will be cared for and looked after, our Child Care team can help you. We can help if:
- You wish to be assessed to care for that child
- You are caring for a child and are not the biological parent
- You have previously cared for that child
- The local authority has completed a viability assessment of you/your family
- You wish to have contact with the child
Although a non-parent is not automatically entitled to Legal Aid, you may still be eligible for funding. Get in touch with our lawyers today if you are unsure about your financial position.
We can provide specialist representation of children of all ages in cases of this nature, and are often called upon by Court-appointed guardians to represent the interests of children involved in care proceedings. Our specialists are skilled in communicating effectively with children, and we work closely with Court-appointed Guardians, ensuring that proceedings are explained in an age-appropriate way to young clients. We are also increasingly being instructed by young people in the care system who are looking for independent, straightforward advice.
We are often called upon to represent the interests of children who have been made a party to private law proceedings under rule 16.3 and 4 of the Family Proceedings Rules. We bring to bear our experience and the advantage of being in a firm with other publicly funded areas of work when working in this field.
How are cases funded?
If you have parental responsibility of the child, you have the right to Legal Aid funding. Legal representation from us is free no matter what your financial situation is.
Contact us today to have your claim assessed and to receive advice about your case. Call us on 0800 138 0458, or send us a message through our website.