Care Proceedings and Child Protection
Every Local Authority has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within its area. Care proceedings are instigated by the Local Authority Social Services Department if it believes a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, serious harm. We have solicitors who are specially trained members of the ‘Law Society Children Law Scheme’ who are able to represent you throughout the course of any Court action which can be a traumatic time for parents, particularly if they have been separated from a child who has been placed into interim care.
During the course of proceedings, which are normally concluded within 26 weeks, we will assist you with understanding the need for, and dealing with, any assessment the Court orders. We will help you get to grips with all the paperwork and arrange for specialist representation and help at Court if that is deemed necessary.
Within care proceedings the Court will appoint a guardian to represent the interests of the child. The guardian is independent of the Local Authority and will make a separate recommendation to the Court. The guardian will always critically scrutinise the work of the Local Authority. On occasions we are instructed by the guardian to represent the interests of the child in the proceedings.
Grandparents often have a role to play. It may be they wish to be assessed as possible carers for their grandchild. We can advise as to the options available to them, including Special Guardianship.
Legal aid is automatically available to parents or those with parental responsibility for a child in these proceedings. Legal aid is not automatically available to grandparents, whose case will be scrutinised by the Legal Aid Agency and subject to a means assessment before public funding is granted. We can help with this.
Whilst most of our work is undertaken in the Family Court at Bournemouth and Poole, we have professional contacts throughout the South and West, be it other solicitors firms or barristers chambers, and we can arrange for your representation in distant Courts should that prove necessary.
Care proceedings are often issued as a result of a crisis within a family and a Court hearing listed at very short notice. It is imperative that advice is sought at the earliest possible stage and it is usually possible to arrange representation at any emergency hearing. In care proceedings, which can lead on to an application to adopt, the most important family issues are considered and it is essential to secure legal advice and representation.
For further advice on child care and supervision please contact one of the team today to see how we can help.