How long does it take to go through care proceedings at court?
Once care proceedings are issued there is a statutory time limit of 26 weeks to conclude the matter. However, this can be increased by up to eight weeks at a time in exceptional circumstances The court will only extend the time limit if it feels it is necessary in order to deal with the case justly.
What is a supervision order?
A supervision order places a duty on the local authority to advise, assist and befriend a child which can take many forms, such as one to one support or frequent visits to the child’s home. It also provides the local authority with the power to give effect to the order. Crucially, it does not give the local authority parental responsibility and they cannot remove the child without the consent of the parents or a court order.
What is a care order?
A care order places a child in the care of the local authority until he or she reaches 18 or the order is revoked. This provides the local authority with parental responsibility in respect of the child and allows it to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as with whom the child is to live and to regulate contact. The local authority must consult with the parents and involve them in the decision making. It can only be made if the local authority satisfies the court there is evidence that the child/ren are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm attributable to the care they are receiving, and that it is proportionate and in the children(s) best interests they are made the subject of an order
What is an interim care order?
Where an application is made for a care order, the court may make a temporary order called an interim care order placing a child in the care of the local authority until it makes a final decision. The order provides the local authority with parental responsibility.
An interim care order allows the local authority to make decisions regarding your children until the final hearing, subject to certain exceptions, however, they must consult with the parents. The local authority will be able to decide with whom the child is to live.
I have been served with an emergency protection order, what is it?
This is an order allowing a child to be removed from their carers where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child is at immediate risk of significant harm. It is an order “requiring exceptional justification”. So long as the order lasts the local authority will share limited parental responsibility with you and others who have parental responsibility. It will enable the local authority to make significant decisions regarding where your child lives and who he/she can see and when. An Emergency Protection Order can last up to eight days but this can be extended once by a court for up to a further seven days.
I have been told I can’t continue in a relationship with my partner due to the safety of my children, what can I do?
The local authority cannot force you to end your relationship with your partner. However, you will almost definitely need a solicitor if it is alleged that your partner has, or is, significantly harming your children or that they present a risk of significant harm to your children. The local authority may use this as grounds to remove your children from you. They may also allege that, by continuing the relationship, you cannot adequately protect your children from harm, which would constitute grounds for removal.
I have been told that my children will be taken into care, what should I do?
You should seek legal advice immediately. The local authority can only place children in care with their parents’ consent or with a court order. We can evaluate the evidence quickly and advise you on the next steps.
I have had a visit from social services, do I need a solicitor?
You will almost definitely need a solicitor if social services tell you that they will be issuing care proceedings, that they will be holding a Public Law Outline meeting, if they ask you to sign a Section 20 written agreement or are convening a case conference, or they tell you that you need a solicitor.
What is the matrimonial home?
The matrimonial home/family home is often referred to as the home in which the parties and their family lived in. Where people are married it is often referred to as the matrimonial home, where they have been in a cohabiting relationship it is often referred to as the family home. Both parties can have rights over this property irrespective of whose name it is in, irrespective of who has paid the bills. Please note, that the rights of a married couple on separation may well be very different to the rights of a cohabiting couple on separation. It is important that legal advice is taken to advise on those rights.
How can I work out what my partner should pay to me for our children as child maintenance?
Parents are encouraged to try and resolve amicably the level of child support that is paid by one parent (the parent with whom the children do not live with the majority of the time) to the other. If they can reach an agreement all well and good, that does not need to be ratified in a court order or via the CMS (Child Maintenance Service). Parents can be helped to reached an agreement by using a variety of sources including Child Maintenance Options, a free service providing impartial information and support to help separating parents make decisions about child maintenance arrangements.
Sometimes however parents cannot reach an agreement and an application to the CMS may be necessary. The CMS have a variety of options in dealing with child maintenance including carrying out a formal calculation based on the absent parent’s gross income, collecting the maintenance etc. please note that an application to the Child Maintenance Service is not free, it needs to be paid for by both parents. The CMS does have a variety of options for enforcement of maintenance as well.
Click here to see the CMS website