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The local authority will make an application and bring a case to the Family Court if it has welfare concerns about a child and/or concerns about the child or young persons safety.
A parent or carer is usually given notice of an application to the court so there is time to get a solicitor and prepare their case.
Legal aid is available free of charge automatically for a parent in care proceedings when either a care order, supervision order or emergency protection order is being applied for by the local authority and does not require any assessment of financial circumstances.
Funding assistance and free legal aid may also be available to assist other important family members and persons connected to the child or children. For more information on legal aid or funding please speak to one of our team.
In certain circumstances if the local authority believes that it is absolutely necessary to remove the child from the care of a parent or parents to keep that child safe and there is no other alternative then the local authority will apply to the Court either for an Emergency Protection Order or an interim Care Order.
If the local authority are asking the Court to remove a child on an urgent basis either without notice to a parent or very short notice it could ask the Court for an Emergency Protection Order (or EPO). If the Court granted an Emergency Protection Order this would allow the local authority to remove a child for up to eight days allowing them time to apply for an interim Care Order.
If the Court made an interim Care Order then the Court could also decide that a child is to be removed from a parents care and placed either with another family member or a foster carer.
The Court could also consider making an interim Supervision Order. Unlike an interim Care Order this would mean the local authority would not exercise parental responsibility rights for the child or share these rights with the parents and that the child would either remain with a parent/parents or family member.
A parent has the right to challenge the local authority application to remove a child from their care or ask the Court to consider other options to keep the child safe on where the child lives and arrangements for contact. This could include asking the Court to make a different type of Order (or even no Order) or make alternative arrangements for the child. The first step when considering any of this is to get legal advice on your circumstances in the case.
At the start of care proceedings the Court will set a timetable for the filing of evidence and further assessments at a case management hearing. Each case will usually require a number of hearings and the guidance suggests that care proceedings should conclude within 26 weeks although they can take a shorter or longer period of time depending upon the particular circumstances of each case.
Care proceedings can be complex but there are there two elements to the decision making process which the Court considers before making a final Order in care proceedings. Firstly a Court has to be satisfied that the grounds for making an Order in Care Proceedings are made out both legally and evidentially. This is often called the threshold grounds for the Court to be able to find certain facts as being proven or not proven at the time the case was brought to Court by the Local Authority. This applies both at the interim/early stage of proceedings and when the Court is considering what final Order might be appropriate. Secondly, the Court has to consider the factors relating to the child’s welfare that inform future planning before the Court makes a final Order.
The Court must take into account any changes that a parent has made since the case started or updating information that could be important to the case or the child’s welfare before deciding on any final order or arrangements. At Ramsdens our solicitors and the legal team will work with you to understand your situation and recommend ways to help your situation and by providing expert legal advice.
The Family Court have the power to consider a number of final orders available to them in care proceedings. The significant orders that can effect a parents legal rights include;
All of the above and other order’s that are available to the Family Court can have a significant effect upon the legal rights of a parent or carer for a child or young person.
Being involved in care proceedings can be stressful and daunting and you will need support and specialist advice in this difficult area of law from a professional child law solicitor. For advice and expertise please get in touch with one of our child law solicitors.
For advice on any aspect of care proceedings legal representation for a Court hearing and to apply for legal aid speak to the expert child law solicitors at Ramsdens. Call us today on 01924 431 774 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time convenient for you.