In the event that the Local Authority has intervened in your family due to concerns for your child/children’s’ welfare we can assist in terms of representing you in any court proceedings that the Local Authority may commence. In such situations, representation is free to parents. Solicitor’s representation is funded by the Legal Aid Agency on a non means and non merits tested basis.
The Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme
We are committed to providing the best quality advice and representation to all our clients. That’s why as a specialist care lawyer Boyd Carter is a member of the Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation Scheme (sometimes called the ‘Children Panel’).
Accredited expertise you can trust
Membership of the scheme means that lawyers have been assessed as having a high standard of knowledge and skill in representing adults and children under the Children Act 1989. Scheme members must have significant experience in dealing with matters under the Children Act. This includes providing advice and representation for:
- children in all types of family matters, including care proceedings, or where they have been made a party to private law proceedings;
- Adults (including parents, other relatives and carers) where children are ‘at risk’ or have been taken into care by the Local Authority;
- Local Authorities, in care proceedings under the Children Act 1989.
The Children Law Accreditation Scheme provides a recognisable quality mark. The expertise of members of the Scheme is independently and rigorously assessed on a frequent basis.
Boyd Carter has been a member of the Law Society Children Panel (Children Representative) since 1994 and has conducted cases in Family Proceedings Courts, County Courts, the Principal Registry of the Family Division, the single Family Court and the High Court of Justice Family Division.
Boyd can advise and, when necessary, represent mothers, fathers, children and other family members, such as Grand Parents, in disputes and Court proceedings in many kinds of cases involving children.
Care proceedings usually have to be completed within 26 weeks. In some complex cases the Court can authorise further time. I will keep you advised on timescales as your case progresses.
The Court can only make a Care Order or a Supervision Order if it is satisfied that the ‘Threshold Criteria’ are met:
• the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm and
• the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given if the Order were not made, not being what would be reasonably expected of a parent;
• or the child is beyond parental control. Interim Care Orders & Interim Supervision Orders
The court may make an Interim Care Order or an Interim Supervision Order under s38 of the Children Act 1989 where, in an application for a Care Order, the Court has reasonable grounds to believe that the ‘Threshold Criteria’ are met and the proceedings are adjourned or where a court in any proceedings gives a direction for the investigation of a child’s home circumstances under s37 of the Children Act 1989. The Interim Order will last until any final or other Order is made in the proceedings.
A Care Order (under Section 31(1)(a) of the Children Act) places the child in the care of the Local Authority, with parental responsibility being shared between the parents and the Local Authority. The Court will expect to be informed by the Local Authority of what plans there are for a child and be satisfied that the Care Order is in the child’s best interests. Usually a child will be placed in foster care but sometimes a care order is made where risks are high but a child is returned home. A Care Order can last until a young person is 18 years old; or until an Adoption, Supervision, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements “Lives With” Order (formerly a Residence Order) is made; or until the Court decides that the Order is no longer necessary. The Local Authority, or persons with parental responsibility for the child, can apply for the discharge of the Order.
This places a child or young person under the supervision of the Local Authority or a Probation Officer, who are required to advise, help and befriend the child. The Order can only be for one year in the first instance, but the Supervisor can apply for this to be extended although it must not be for more than three years in all, and not after the child is 18 years old. A Supervision Order may have conditions. For example, that the child should have medical or psychiatric examination or treatment. It may also say that the child should take part in particular activities at specified times. The Order can be stopped if any interested parties apply to the Court and the Court agrees, or if a Care Order is subsequently made.
In cases where a Local Authority’s plan for a child is for the child not to return or remain in a parent’s care nor be placed with a family member, the Local Authority will usually apply for a Placement Order. A Placement Order enables the Local Authority to place a child for adoption with suitably approved prospective adoptive carers. A Placement Order can only be made by the Court if it considers that there is no other safe alternative placement for a child. Before making a Placement Order, the Court must consider contact between the child and their birth parents and whether or not the parents’ consent to the adoption. If a parent does not consent to adoption then the Court must dispense with a parent’s consent and can only do that if it is in the best interests of the child throughout the remainder of their childhood.
After a child has been placed with adopters under a Placement Order, those prospective adopters are likely to make an application to the court for an Adoption Order. Once a child has been placed with prospective adopters it is most unlikely that you would be able to seek that the child returns to your care. If an application for Adoption is made in the future then you should be notified. Once a child has been adopted, all connection with their birth family is severed and the child is treated as if he/she is a child of the adopters. Only in very limited circumstances would contact be arranged between a child and his/her birth family once a child is then placed for adoption.