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An Interim Care Order is a temporary order for a child, usually made at the beginning of care proceedings. This is an order made by the Court and gives the Local Authority parental responsibility alongside the child’s parents until the Court makes a final decision and unless varied in the interim. This order enables the Local Authority to make decisions about what they think is best for the child. Under an Interim Care Order, the Local Authority has a duty to promote contact between the parents and the child providing it is safe to do so.

When can the Court make an Interim Care Order (ICO)?

Under Section 38(2) of the Children Act 1989, the Court will make an Interim Care Order if it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm. Furthermore that this harm is due to the parenting the child has, or is at risk of receiving if the order were not made, falling below the parenting that would be reasonably expected. As a separate ground, a Court can consider making an order when a child is beyond parental control. The Court will make an Interim Care Order if it is absolutely necessary.

What happens under an Interim Care Order?

An Interim Care Order is often made where the child needs to be cared for by the Local Authority or another family member. When a child is placed under an Interim Care Order, an Interim Care Plan will also be prepared by the Local Authority and made available to parents to discuss with their solicitor. This will include information regarding contact arrangements with family members and how the child’s specific needs will be met during the proceedings. An Independent Reviewing Officer will also be appointed to undertake a regular review of the plan in the interests of the child.

What powers does an Interim Care Order give the local authority?

If the separate legal test is met for removal, the Local Authority can remove a child from the care of their parents whilst proceedings are ongoing and before a final decision is made by the Court. The Local Authority could, if necessary and in the best interests of the child, decide where the child goes to school, obtain information about their health and make arrangements for them to receive medical or psychological treatment, if necessary. It is important to remember however that the Local Authority have a responsibility to consult and consider the views of the parents before any decision is made. Ultimately, the needs and welfare of the child is the primary focus in any decision making.

Why is getting legal advice important?

Any decisions made early in the care proceedings process can significantly impact the future conduct of the proceedings and ultimately what happens to the child in the future. Care proceedings can be a frightening and confusing process and it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

How do I pay for legal advice?

Legal Aid is automatically available for any parent, or anyone else with parental responsibility for the child. There is no contribution to pay nor payment at a later stage. This includes Court proceedings or where there is a pre-proceedings meeting. It is important to seek legal advice as your solicitor can apply for legal aid your behalf. 

If you are notified by the Local Authority or Children’s Services that they intend to issue care proceedings due to concerns regarding the welfare of your child / children, please contact our Child Law Department here at Ramsdens Solicitors on 01924 431 774 to speak with a member of our very experienced and expert team, or email us at The teams’ profiles are also available to take a look at on our website.


The above article is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any part of the information given.