If you fail to satisfy the local authority regarding the welfare of your child, you will find yourself going to court over them.

If you fail to respond to the letter before proceedings, cannot come to an agreement with social services about how to care for your child, fail in keeping to the agreement once made, or simply if your local authority continues to have concerns about the way you look after your child, you will almost certainly find yourself going to court over your child.

What Will Occur if You Find Yourself Going to Court?

The local authority will ask the court to issue a Care Order, giving them permission to take your child into care and the legal rights to make decisions about your child’s life and what they do.

If your local authority thinks your child is in serious danger of being harmed, they can apply to court at any time without making an agreement.

If the local authority decide to take the matter to the courts they will inform you in writing. They will also inform your solicitor. Do not be surprised if you do not get much warning – this is not unusual – however, you must still attend.

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Attending your hearing will be

  • A judge or magistrates
  • You and your solicitor
  • Your local authority’s solicitor
  • Your child’s social worker
  • A children’s guardian
  • Your child’s solicitor.

As a rule, your child should not go to court with you, but sometimes the judge may specifically want to see your child.

“From the moment Mr
Fleming arrived at court
to stop Social Services
taking my grandson into
foster care, we could see
that family mattered; and
we have been shown that
all along the way. We will
never forget Brendan: he
was our knight in shining
armour on that day.”Our client, Julie

At court, the judge or magistrates will ask your local authority to explain why they think your child should be taken into care. You will also be asked what you think. As a rule, let your solicitor do the talking for you. They know how to put your points across in the right way. But sometimes the judge or magistrate will ask questions of you directly.

Once court proceedings have begun, do not be surprised that you have to go to court more than once. In child care cases, multiple hearings are very usual while the case is decided.

After you go for the first time, the judge or magistrate will want to get more information. They may ask for some assessments to be made to help them decide. Many different assessments of you and your child may be asked for. For instance:

  • The court can ask for assessments of your child’s health or development
  • If you agree they can ask for your child to visit a child psychologist or education expert.
  • If you agree, they can also ask for you to be assessed by health or mental health experts.
  • They can ask for your family members to be assessed to see if any of them would be able to look after your child.
These assessments are carried out to help the court to find out all the facts about you and your child to help make the right decision.

If the court asks you to go to an assessment, or allow your child to be assessed, you must do it. If you don’t, the court will want to know why and may have to make a decision about your child without this information.

What Will Happen as a Result of Going to Court?

Notably, it is the judge or magistrates who decides what happens – not the local authority.

The courts have the power to decide that:

  • your child will stay with you
  • your child will move to live with a friend or family member
  • your child will go into care

    “I found the best possible
    legal assistance I could in
    Brendan Fleming Solicitors.
    I would strongly recommend
    that anyone going through
    the same I have been through
    contact Brendan Fleming
    Solicitors immediately. They
    don’t just try to ‘win’ your
    case; they do everything
    within their power to bring
    justice for families and stop
    injustices occurring.”Our client, J.S.

You have a right to argue against this decision in court. And if you disagree, you must fight. If you do not, there is a very real threat that social services can take your children.

It can take anywhere between six months to a year for a court to decide what will happen to your child, though current legislation aims to keep that at the 28-week mark.

Until the court makes its final decision, it will decide if your child will either:

  • stay with you
  • stay with a member of your family, or
  • be taken into care

This depends on whether the court thinks your child is in danger of being harmed if they stay with you in the short term. If your child is taken into care, you will normally be allowed to see them. The local authority must agree with you when you can see your child. If your child stays with you, you are responsible for making sure your child goes to all the appointments arranged for them.

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Brendan Fleming Solicitors are nationally recognized as a leading choice in the area of care work. We are justifiably proud of our expertise and our success rate. We are contracted to the Legal Services Commission for this type of work and are considered to be one of the leading national firms for publicly funded services.

Our principal, Brendan Fleming, has won a reputation for his innovative approach, spearheading many new ways of securing justice for families caught in the care proceedings trap. He is a member of a select children’s panel and recognized and approved by the Law Society.

If you are going to court and need a Care Proceedings Solicitor to help you, contact Brendan Fleming today.

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Brendan Fleming Solicitors
165 Newhall Street BirminghamWMB3 1SW UK 
 • 0121 683 5000
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