What rights do grandparents have?
Grandparents do not have parental responsibility of their grandchildren so their rights are limited. They may however apply for a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order in their own private law proceedings. Alternatively, if public law care proceedings are issued then grandparents may put themselves forward as alternative carers.
Can you stop an adoption?
An adoption order can only be made with the consent of all those who hold parental responsibility or a court order dispensing with their consent. Consent will only be dispensed with if the child’s welfare requires that it should be. This is a very high test and when “nothing else will do”. If the court has made a placement order allowing the local authority to place a child for adoption, an application can be made to revoke the order but first you will need to get the permission of the court. Permission will only be granted if the court has seen a significant change in circumstances since the order was made.
Once a placement order has been made, and subsequently an application is made to adopt the child, the court will only make such an order if the welfare of the child requires it. A parent can seek to oppose the adoption but the court will only allow them to do so if they have the permission of the court. The court will give the permission if there has been a change in circumstances since the placement order was made.
Can grandparents adopt their grandchildren?
Yes, but usually a special guardianship order is preferred as the legal changes to the relationships in the family which arise from adoption can be confusing for the child.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is an independent officer appointed by the court who represents the child/ren’s best interests and welfare. Their professional opinion is given substantial weight by the court. The guardian will appoint their own solicitor who will advocate on behalf of the child at meetings and court hearings.
Why do I need a solicitor to help me keep my children at home with me?
The local authority can only remove children from the family without parents’ consent by getting a court order. Care proceedings raise two fundamental human right; those of a right to a fair trial and a right to a private family life. As a parent in care proceedings you are entitled to automatic legal aid and representation in order to protect your human rights. Furthermore, court proceedings can be very traumatic and complex and require expert assistance.
What will happen at a case conference?
The purpose of a case conference is to consider whether a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of the care provided to them. All the key agencies and professionals involved with your family meet to share information regarding your child. Once this is established, the local authority and other agencies will decide what support they can provide to the child and family to reduce and eliminate the risk and it will formulate a plan as to when and how this support will be delivered.
I want to see my adopted children, what can I do?
You can apply for an Order of the Court for post-adoption contact. However, you will need to ask for the court’s permission to make the application. In deciding whether to grant permission the court will consider the risk of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life and any harm it may cause, the applicant’s connection to the child and any representations made by the child, the local authority or the adoptive parents. Such orders are very rare.
I want to see my children in care but I am not allowed, what can I do?
The local authority has a duty to promote reasonable contact between you and your children. This could be anything from weekly visits to supervised contact at a children’s centre, unless it has obtained a court order limiting or terminating your contact. You should speak to the social worker and seek legal advice in order to challenge the local authority’s decision.
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.