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In the event that a Local Authority initiates Care Proceedings, family members (Grandparents or kinship carers) will often want to be involved in caring for the children subject to a Care Order.
This could be at the request of Social Services or it may be an independent wish from the carers themselves.If Family Services are involved with your Grand child (or a child who is are related to you in another way) and you are concerned about how they will be cared for, our Child Care Law team can help. Our solicitors understand that Care Proceedings can be difficult for any people who have a connection to the child. We can advise you on all aspects of Child Care Law and provide you with representation as a Grandparent or other relative in Care Proceedings. For example, 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
As a non-parent you are not automatically entitled to Legal Aid. However, you may be entitled to funding on a ‘means, merit’ basis, which means your financial situation as well as the circumstances of your case will be assessed to see if you are eligible for funding. In these situations, it is vital to seek legal advice and representation at the earliest opportunity.In some circumstances, delay in proceedings can mean that the court will not direct the local authority to assess you or your family. It is essential to act quickly if you need help with a situation involving a child you have cared for where social services are involved.
Court orders for non-parents
There are different types of orders that the Court is able to grant to family members. As an overview they are:
Child Arrangements Orders (Formerly Child Residence orders) – these are temporary orders that grant the holder parental responsibility for the child for the length of the order.
Special Guardianship Orders – this provides elevated parental responsibility to whoever holds the order. A Special Guardianship Order will last until the child is 18 years old and can only be discharged with permission of the court.
Approved Family Foster Carer – this does not award the carer parental responsibility, however the Local Authority approve the carer as a foster carer.
Choosing the right court order for your family
Depending on the circumstances of your case Social Services may make recommendations for either a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship order, or they may push for:
Child arrangements orders
- the parents will be able to have more involvement in making decisions for the child and carers will be expected to consult parents on key issues
- can be suitable if you have a good relationship with the parents of the child
Special guardianship order
- may be suitable if it is best for the child that you take a more prominent role in their care
The type of order that either the Local Authority, Family Court or you may wish for always depends on the circumstances of each case.It is essential that you seek legal advice before making a decision about Care orders. To learn more about your rights as a non-parent carer, talk to one of our specialist Child Care Law solicitors.