Social Services

Social Services Solicitors

No matter how difficult or complicated the circumstances, our experienced child care lawyers are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you and your family. If social services have taken your child into care, or have threatened to do so, it’s important that you are represented by someone who understands the legal process.

We recognize that when social services become involved with your family it can be a distressing and confusing time. We can help you through the process and represent you at every stage of the legal process. Call us for a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our social services solicitors.

Expert social services solicitors

Our child care lawyers specialise in dealing with complex and sensitive child care proceedings. We represent hundreds of people, each year across the United Kingdom. We can provide assistance and advice to parents, family members, children and guardians across all aspects of child care proceedings, including:

  • Care orders
  • Supervision orders
  • Emergency protection orders
  • Placement orders
  • Adoption orders
  • Special guardianship orders
  • Child arrangement orders
  • Prohibited steps orders
  • Specific issue orders
  • Child abduction
  • Wardship and orders under the inherent jurisdiction
  • Defending allegations of injury, abuse or neglect

Our child care lawyers recognise the difficulties faced by parents and extended family members who find themselves needing legal advice and always give straight forward guidance in a sensitive and empathetic way. We are also able to respond to emergencies and provide speedy representation where this is required.

Need Expert Advice? Contact Our Family Lawyers

What Orders Can The Court Make?

Care Order

Care Orders enable the Local Authority to share Parental Responsibility for a child, which means that they are involved in making important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as where they live and who they live with.

A Care Order will normally last until a child is 18 years old although you can apply for a discharge of a Care Order before then.

Supervision Order

A Supervision Order places a child under the supervision of the Local Authority although it does not grant them Parental Responsibility. This usually means that the child is not taken into care and remains with the parents, but is supervised by Social Services to make sure they are well cared for.

Child Arrangements Order

A CAO sets out the arrangements for where the child lives and who looks after them. These orders are often made in care proceedings instead of Care Orders where a child goes to live with a relative. It would give that person Parental Responsibility for the period of the order.

A CAO can also set out who can see the child, for instance if they are not returning to live with the parents. These Orders can be made in respect of parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, other relatives and friends. Contact is always judged on the basis of what is best for the child.

Placement Order

A Placement Order enables a Local Authority to place a child with prospective adopters. It can only be made in relation to a child who is the subject of a Care Order or where the threshold criteria for a Care Order are satisfied.Parental consent to the Placement

Order may be dispensed with by the Court on the grounds that either the parent is incapable of giving consent; or that the welfare of the child requires the consent to be dispensed with. Further legal proceedings are required before the court can make an Adoption Order.

Adoption Order

An Adoption Order transfers Parental Responsibility for the child from the birth parents and others who had Parental Responsibility, including the Local Authority, permanently to the adopter(s). An Adoption Order can be made where the Court agrees that adoption is in the best interests of the child and Parental consent to adoption has been given or dispensed with by the Court.

Emergency Protection Order (EPO)

An Emergency Protection Order can be applied for where there is an immediate risk of significant harm to a child. A Local Authority would normally make the application, although the NSPCC, a police officer or any other person can apply for an EPO.

An EPO will enable a child to be removed to other accommodation or to remain in a place where they are being safely accommodated (e.g. a hospital or foster placement).
An EPO can only last for a maximum of 8 days though the Local Authority can ask for a further 7 day extension.

Special Guardianship Order (SGO)

A Special Guardianship Order offers an additional option for children needing permanent care outside their birth family. It can offer greater security without severing ties permanently from the birth family, as in adoption. Special Guardians will have Parental Responsibility for the child. A Special Guardianship Order will replace the Care Order and the Local Authority will no longer have Parental Responsibility.

Social services lawyers - Further information

Children’s Services can apply for a care order when they have significant concerns about a child’s safety and well-being and the parents/carers have not been able to sort out the things that they are worried about.

If a Care Order is made on your child, whether this is temporary or long-term, Children’s Services have the right to remove your child from your care even if you don’t agree if the court approves this plan.

If the social worker plans to apply for a Care Order, they should tell you this and should confirm this in a letter to you. If for any reason you don’t know about it, you will find out when you receive a notice from the court saying they are applying for a care order.

If you are a parent/or someone else with parental responsibility for the child, you will automatically be a ‘party’ to the proceedings. This means you have a right to go to court to argue against their application and say what you think is best for your child. You can also get free legal aid to pay for a solicitor to represent you.

If you are a relative, you can ask if you can join in the proceedings – this is called becoming a party. It gives you the right to speak in court and tell the judge what you think is best for the child and how you can help, for example if you can take on the care of the child if they cannot remain with their parents.

Parents and others who have parental responsibility for a child involved in care proceedings will receive legal aid to pay their solicitor’s fees. You will receive this regardless of your financial means.

You don’t have an automatic right to free legal aid to be represented by a solicitor in the case (unless you already have parental responsibility for the child). However, you can apply for legal aid but whether you get it will depend on how much money you have and whether you have a good case to argue in court.

The Public Law Outline is the final stage before care proceedings are issued. This normally happens when the Local Authority has serious concerns in respect of the safety and welfare of a child. This can be following an incident or after months of involvement with a family under a Child Protection Plan where no progress has been made.

A meeting is normally held by Social Services following the issuing of a letter to parents advising them to seek legal advice. The PLO letter automatically entitles a parent or someone with parental responsibility to legal aid.

Parents are advised to attend the meeting with a solicitor to see if an agreement can be reached to prevent the matter being taken to Court. We can advise you and attend these meetings with you.

A Children’s Guardian is independent from the Local Authority. The Role of a Guardian is to act as a voice for a child, to make sure that a child is safe, and to make sure that any decisions made are made in the best interests of a child.

In Care Proceedings, the Guardian will consider the Local Authority’s care plans to ensure that the care plan is viable for a child. The Guardian will also share their views as to what they feel should happen to a child in respect of their placement.

Trust our social services solicitors

Our child care lawyers will deal with all aspects of your case, from providing you with initial legal advice to representing your views at court hearings. We recognise the need for adopting a suitable approach to meet the needs of your case and, when robustly defending you and your family’s interests in court.

We understand how stressful and emotional such family proceedings can be, which is why we pride ourselves on a friendly, sympathetic and professional approach. Our team has a strong reputation for fighting for our clients and achieving positive and successful outcomes. We will guide you through this difficult time with realistic and focused advice.

Contact our social services solicitors today

Our team of family solicitors include members of the Law Society Children Panel. We are here to provide expert and reliable support when you need us most.

For a no-obligation consultation, please call our social services solicitors today on 01256 630080 or complete our online enquiry form.

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