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The Local Authority has a duty to intervene and start Child Care Proceedings if there are concerns that a child is at risk as a result of the care that they are being given.
In some cases Social Workers are only involved for a short period of time but from the moment a Social Worker is involved, families are monitored and everything can be taken into account at a later date. Sometimes families do not fully understand this and so things happen that they later regret which lead to problems down the line.
Children's Services may convene a Child Protection Case Conference to take place which will allow Children's Services to see if a child could be properly protected without a Care Order being made. If concerns excalate or are serious, Children's Services will start Pre-proceedings process. All parents can be represented in this process and get legal aid.
At Forbes we have a large experienced team of solicitors who have years of experience of dealing with families who are involved with Local Authorities and Children's Services.
It is important to take legal advice if you are struggling to manage your relationship with Children's Services or the Local Authority. They have the authority to apply to the Court for powers to make decisions to overrule you as a parent or carer for a child. They can only do this if there are grounds that the child is suffering harm or at risk of harm. If this is established, the Court must decide what order is appropriate and what the most suitable care arrangements are.
If Children's Services suspect your child is in immediate danger they can take a number of steps to protect your child, including applying for an Emergency Protection Order which will remove the child from your care for up to eight days whilst further investigations are undertaken.
If Children's Services are starting Child Care Proceedings then you must contact us immediately. This first step will involve an initial Court hearing (this usually takes place within twelve days after the Local Authority making the application).
It is important you understand what this means and the consequences for your child. We can work with you to ensure you and your child's best interests are maintained.
The Court will not usually make any final decisions at the first hearing. The Court will do one of the following;
Further hearings will monitor the child's living arrangements, who the child will see and how the case will proceed. The Court's focus is the welfare of the child(ren) and this is the courts paramount consideration. A case can take up to a maximum of 26 weeks before the case is ready for the Final Hearing. Some cases take longer than this depending on the circumstances of the case.
At Forbes Solicitors we can help any family member whether you are a parent, grandparent or other family member or friend. Legal Aid is available for all parents and other family members in some cases.
Often disputes arise within families regarding where children should live, for example upon parents separating, or whether the children should have contact with the parent that they don't live with.
There may be different issues other than where the children live and with whom they spend time, such as Parental Responsibility, removal from the country, child abduction, paternity disputes or Change of Name Deeds.
Often cases can be resolved without the need for Court Proceedings and at Forbes Solicitors we will make every effort to do so. We are always mindful of the fact that cases involving children are particularly sensitive.
At Forbes our Family, Divorce and Children Law Solicitors are here to help you in any way that we can. Whether you simply require some straightforward legal advice, a letter sending or, if necessary, Court Proceedings can be issued.
Get in touch to see how our experts could help you.