Care Proceedings Department

Our Care Department

Here at Brendan Fleming Solicitors we are proud of our team of dedicated and specially trained fee earners who will provide a professional and friendly service throughout, and  our team will be understanding of the difficult situation you may find yourself in. 
At Brendan Fleming Solicitors we offer a first class legal service where we ensure that every client, regardless of their situation, is our priority.  Our approach is tailored to your needs we will work to resolve your case in in a thorough, yet efficient manner.

If the local authority is involved with your family,  we are able to offer you detailed guidance as to the legal process that must be followed by everyone concerned.

Representation of Children

Within Public Law Proceedings (i.e. Court proceedings involving the local authority) a solicitor will be appointed to represent the interests of the children. Sometimes this also happens in Private Law Proceedings (i.e. applications which may include Child Arrangement Orders, Special Guardianship Orders). The solicitor will normally work alongside a CAFCASS Guardian to  assist and advise the Court in making decisions for the children. They will look at everything from the child’s point of view rather than that of the local authority or parents, and make recommendations to the Court  as to what is in each child’s best interests.

Sometimes, if the child is old enough and has a good understanding of the proceedings, the solicitor may take their instructions directly from the child. This is on a strictly case-by-case and is a decision that the child’s solicitor and Guardian may make themselves.

As we have Law Society accredited Children’s Law solicitors, we are able to take instructions from Guardians on behalf of  children and are delighted to assist where possible.  Additionally, we are able to represent family members or friends connected to proceedings who may wish to become more involved in the process by way of an assessment. 


  • We have a large team who specialise in all aspects of the law relating to children including: The public law pre-proceedings process

  • Care proceedings (including Emergency Protection Orders)

  • Applications for contact with children in care

  • Applications to discharge  a Care Order

  • Applications to revoke a  Placement Order

  • Opposing adoption

  • Special Guardianship Orders

  • Surrogacy proceedings

  • Appeals

  • Private law applications under the Children Act 1989

  • Parental responsibility

     

Subsections

Frequently asked questions

Social services/ children’s services are also known as the local authority in these cases. If the local authority has reason to believe your child/ren are not safe in your home, please contact us on 0121 683 5000.  We appreciate it is a stressful situation to find yourself in, but our staff are very experienced in this area of law. We will help you understand your legal position and advise you of the steps you can take to prevent the local authority from removing your child/ren.

If you are a biological parent of the child concerned, or if you have parental responsibility, then you will receive legal aid whatever your financial circumstances, and you will pay nothing for representation in Special Children Act proceedings (this does not cover appeals of final orders.) Other people involved may be entitled to legal aid but this depends on their financial situation, and the reasons for their involvement.

Cases of this kind should be concluded within 26 weeks in accordance with the Public Law Outline (PLO) but there are some exceptional circumstances when they go on for longer.  Permission of the court needs to be gained if proceedings are not able to be concluded within 26 weeks.

These are temporary orders. The judge will decide how long they should last for which can be up to the final hearing or until further order of the court. They are often put in place while assessments/ investigations are being completed and decisions are being made about what will happen in the longer term.

This is a temporary care order which gives the local authority parental responsibility for a child/ren which they then share with the biological parents or those who have parental responsible for a child/ren. This means the local authority can decide things which relate to the child/ren whilst the court proceedings are continuing, this includes where a child should live.  The local authority should consult all those with parental responsibility and keep them fully up to date with information.

There needs to be reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering significant harm, or would be likely to suffer significant harm if an order was not made. “Harm” can be physical, emotional or sexual harm and this also covers cases of neglect. The harm, or likelihood of harm, has to be as a result of the child/ren receiving an inadequate level of care, or as a result of the child being beyond parental control.  If the court finds that the grounds are met for an interim care order the court should only make an order if it is also satisfied that it is in the child’s best interests and that it is proportionate in the circumstances.

This is an order which can be made in emergency situations where the risk of harm is imminent. These orders are obtained from the court to ensure the short term safety of a child/ren. The court will only make the order if they are satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if:
1) he is not removed to accommodation provided by the local authority or
2) he does not remain in the place where he is currently being accommodated e.g. in hospital.
In exceptional circumstances a local authority can apply for an EPO without notice to the parents. Protection orders can last for 8 days but the local authority can apply to the court to extend these orders for a further 7 days.

In urgent situations when the police feel children's safety needs immediate protection and there is not enough time to take the matter to court the police are able to use their police powers to protect the children for up to 72 hours, this will normally result in the children being placed in local authority foster care. The local authority will need to apply to the court if they intend to keep the children from returning home or seek the consent of those with parental responsibility to continue to accommodate the children until assessments/ investigations are completed and a decision made.

In every case the child concerned is separately represented by his/her own solicitor. The solicitor is assisted by the “children’s guardian”, an independent person with expertise in advising the court about what will be in a child’s best interests. The children guardian is independent of the local authority and is appointed by the court.

We represent you to ensure that your voice is heard. You will have the opportunity to get your views across through us representing you and the submissions we make on your behalf and in written statements which will be filed to the court. You should also be given the opportunity to discuss your views with the social worker, the children’s guardian and anyone else who is preparing a report for the court.  You may also need to give oral evidence which is when you will speak directly to the court and you will be asked questions from all of the legal representatives of the parties.

Some areas have family drug and alcohol courts, if you live in an area which has this program your case may be allocated to that court if the main concerns of the local authority are drugs and/or alcohol.  We are able to represent you in these cases also but there are some hearings where lawyers do not attend and you meet separately with the judge to review progress.

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