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Understanding Care Proceedings

When facing Care Proceedings brought by Social Services, the emotional and psychological toll on families can be a difficult time. Williamsons Solicitors are here to support you through this challenging period. We’ve guided many families through similar situations, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights are protected every step of the way.

Dealing with Care Proceedings

Care Proceedings begin when Social Services believe a child is suffering or likely to suffer serious harm. This could trigger the Local Authority to apply for a Care Order, initiating Court proceedings, which are designed to conclude within 26 weeks unless the case is particularly complex.

The first hearing is vital but won’t yield a final decision. Instead, it will address immediate concerns, such as temporary custodial arrangements under an interim (temporary) order. It also sets the stage for further hearings and the preparation for the case’s final hearing.

Social Services has a duty to ensure all children are safe and well-cared for by their parents or guardians. They may become involved with your family following concerns raised about your child’s welfare, often from information received from third parties. If they believe your child is at risk, they are obligated to act to protect them but must seek the Court’s permission for any actions you disagree with.

Not necessarily. Social Services might call a Child Protection Case Conference before considering court action. This conference allows professionals involved with your family to share information and decide on the best way to keep your child safe, including the possible implementation of a child protection plan and additional support services. Your solicitor will not attend this conference but is essential for other meetings, such as the PLO, where legal action discussions take place.

An ICO is considered if the Court believes children have been seriously harmed or are at significant risk of harm. This order allows the Local Authority to share parental responsibility, influencing decisions like where the children live, often much to the parents’ dismay. Subsequent hearings will focus on the children’s living arrangements, contact with parents, and case progression.

Care plan considerations
The Social Worker will discuss with you the care plan in relation to your children and this must take into account your child’s racial, cultural and religious heritage. We are here to discuss with you any disagreements you have about the care plan. If you feel that any alternative family members could care for your children it is important that you inform the Social Worker and discuss this with your solicitor.

Court Proceedings
Throughout the proceedings there will be numerous statements and reports filed at the Court with all the parties. We can go through the papers with you and help you to make a statement. In some cases the Court will believe it is important that an expert also provides a report and this means that you may be asked to undertake an assessment or attend an appointment at a hospital to see a specialist.

In preparation for the issues resolution hearing or final hearing the Court will have read all of the papers in the case and you will be represented by the solicitor who has dealt with your case. We offer you the benefit of the same solicitor dealing with the case throughout so they are experienced with your situation and will help you to achieve the best outcome possible.

The complexities of Care Proceedings warrant professional legal guidance. Our Family Department is dedicated to navigating you through these waters, ensuring your rights as parents are forefront, and striving for outcomes that reflect the best interests of your child/ren.

For more information or to discuss your specific situation, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is ready to assist, ensuring you have the support necessary to face these proceedings with confidence and clarity.

If you receive a Public Law Outline (PLO) letter, legal aid is available to you, regardless of your financial situation. It’s crucial to have legal representation during these times, and we can accompany you to PLO meetings, helping articulate your position to strive for the best possible outcome for your child.

Contact Williamsons Solicitors on 01482 323 697.

HELPING YOU GET THE BEST SOLUTION

Our aim is to assist you during this challenging time.

Family & Childcare Team

Sarah
Clubley

DIRECTOR, SENIOR SOLICITOR
HEAD OF FAMILY & CHILDCARE

Paul
Kirby

SOLICITOR

Rebecca
Lovel

SOLICITOR

Judith
Knight

SOLICITOR

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Excellent staff and couldn’t wish for a better company to deal with it very compassionate.

CARL ANDREW

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They provided a friendly, thorough, fair and transparent service.

A&H

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What was an extremely difficult time for us, was handled with care, compassion and total professionalism.

NEIL

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I was always greeted with a smile and the offer of a cup of coffee.

PETER

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