Under the Children Act 1989, Section 17, the Local Authority are under a duty to promote and safeguard children who are “in need”. In order to exercise this duty the Local Authority provide a range and level of services appropriate to that child’s needs.
In order to assess what the child’s specific needs are, the Local Authority will undertake an assessment. If an assessment finds that a the child is in need of social work services, a child in need plan, involving other agencies involved with the family, should be developed and agreed with the child’s parents at a child in need planning meeting. This plan will clearly set out what is working well for the family and child and what concerns the Local Authority and other professionals have. The plan will set out what outcomes are expected and who is responsible for ensuring the outcomes are achieved.
In some cases, it may be deemed that the child is at risk, and is made subject to a child protection plan. A Child Protection Plan is drawn up by professionals, in consultation with parents, setting out a written record of what needs to be done by the parents to reduce the concern and risk. The plan sets out the child’s needs and how this can be addressed. It also addresses what services and support the Local Authority can provide to assist parents. A clear timeframe should be provided for the objectives and the plan should set out who is responsible for each action.
If a child is made the subject of a child protection plan, it means that the professionals and agencies consider a child to be at risk of significant harm. A child can be placed under a Child Protection Plan in one or more of the following categories- Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.
There are often situations whereby it is not safe or appropriate for child are to live, or remain living with their birth parents. In these circumstances, the Local Authority should explore whether a child can live with their extended family members. In order to assess whether this is safe and appropriate, and in the child’s best interests, various assessments have to be undertaken to assess the family members suitability.
There are a range of different orders that allow a child to be safely placed with their extended family members. Determining which order is the most appropriate will depend on the very specific facts of the case. Each order has its advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of assessing the circumstances to identify the most appropriate order, for the child.
The Orders available to the court include Care Orders, Supervision Orders, Special Guardianship Orders, Child Arrangement Orders. Combinations of the above Orders can be granted, in order to ensure the best placement for the child.
A s.47 Investigation refers to s47 Children Act 1989. The Local Authority has a duty to investigate if there is a child in their area who there are concerns about. This normally comes about where a referral has been made about the concerns of a Child via another professional, the police or by a member of the public. They will not investigate fully every referral, however if they have reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm then they shall investigate.
The local authority will come out and visit you and do the investigation. It is important to engage with the Local Authority as it is something they must do. As such, it is important to work with them during their assessment. If you do not, then the Local Authority may take you to Court in regards to the children. The investigation may look at all aspects of your parenting but should be completed as quickly as possible.
They may complete their assessment and conclude that nothing is wrong and close their case. They may recommend that you might need some support and recommend that the children are placed on a Child Assessment Framework or a Child in Need Plan.
If after the investigation the local authority are concerned then they may recommend that the Children are placed on a Child Protection Plan or if they are really worried, they could issue proceedings to share Parental Responsibility. If say to you that they are taking the matter to Court and seeking a Care Order it is important that you speak to a Solicitor immediately.
Under the Children Act 1989, Section 46, the Police have the power to remove a child/children from the care of their parents/carers in order to protect them. The Police will exercise this power when they have reasonable cause to believe that the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm.
In these circumstances, the Police have the power to remove the child and place them in suitable alternative accommodation. This is usually Local Authority foster care. If the child is in hospital, or in a place of safety, the powers given to the Police allow them to take reasonable steps to ensure that the child’s removal from hospital, or place of safety, is prevented.
A child cannot be kept in police protection for more than 72 hours. The Police do not need to go to Court before exercising these powers, as it is not an order.
Upon exercising this power, the Police shall inform the local authority. Before the 72 hours have expired, the Police will either return the child or consider whether an Emergency Protection Order (see above/below for more details) or an Interim Care Order (see above/below) is required.
A Section 20 arrangement allows a child to be temporarily accommodated by the local authority, but it must be agreed to by those with parental responsibility (see above/below for more details). Those agreeing to the Section 20 accommodation must have capacity (see above/ below for more details). There are various reasons why a parent may agree to the child’s temporary accommodation. However, it is very important that you seek legal advice before agreeing to such accommodation. It is important to note that Section 20 agreements are short term agreements. They should not be used in order to accommodate a child for long periods of time.
A parent can withdraw their Section 20 consent at any time. Following this the children should be returned to the parents’ care, if there are safety or welfare concerns the local authority may issue proceedings.
The local authority send a letter before Court Proceedings when they are worried about how a child is being looked after; it is often sent after the local authority has drawn up a plan for your child to be kept safe and well cared for but they may still have concerns. The letter will be a final notice to the child’s parents and you should follow the instructions in the letter otherwise you may have to go to Court and your child could be taken into care.
The letter asks you to come to a Pre-Proceedings Meeting where you will be asked to talk about the situation. At the meeting you will talk about how to change the way you will look after your child and how the local authority can support you to do this. If you agree some changes these would be written down in a formal agreement you and the Local Authority have to follow. If you do not agree your Local Authority will probably ask the Court to take your child into care. In certain cases we can attend a Pre-Proceedings Meeting with you and guide you through the process.
You must keep to any agreement you make at the Pre-Proceedings Meeting and the local authority should keep to any agreements that they make too. You will probably be asked to go to Review Meetings so that the situation can be monitored.
It you do not keep to the agreement or there are still serious or new concerns your local authority will apply to the Court to start Care Proceedings. You will have to go to Court possibly several times until the Court makes its decision about your child’s future.
I approached Brendan Fleming because my previous solicitor was losing my case. Brendan kindly took the case on and since that day I have felt like a heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders. He gave me hope that my children would be returned home and has been nothing but the complete professional. He has travelled from Birmingham to the South Coast to represent us and I totally understand why so many people recommend Brendan Fleming: he truly is one of the nice guys. I would recommend Brendan Fleming to anyone going through the situation that we have. Our whole family are eternally grateful to Brendan, what a guy!!
I just want to say thank you very much for everything you have done for me and my on. And I will definitely contact you again when the time comes. Eva, Smethwick I would like to thank your good self for the good work that you have done over the last few days, as you are the best of the best. I am very lucky to have had someone as good as you. Thank you so much. I will be recommending you to anyone that needs the help that you have given me and my family. To you and Brendan Fleming, thanks again. I know I got the best help from you. I would like to thank everyone that has worked on my kids’ case and for all the good work that you have all put into this case; specifically, Jack, who has done a lot over the last twelve months, both in person and by phone. I know you have done all you could for my family. You will never be forgotten. I would recommend you to anyone. You are the best in Birmingham.
I felt I was in a desperate situation and was really pleased that I was able to be seen straight away. All my questions were answered. I also felt reassured and that I had been given my self-belief back. “The prices at the Brendan Fleming Solicitors are very competitive. Usually solicitors can be quite intimidating but Brendan was very friendly. Craig Brendan Fleming Solicitors is absolutely brilliant, so much better than I could have expected. The support is fantastic, you are always kept informed and you really cannot fault them. Every member of staff gives a fantastic service. I have been thrilled with everyone. I would definitely recommend them. Charlotte I didn’t know what to expect as I have never dealt with a solicitor before. I found the service very professional and polite. Brendan Fleming Solicitors has ticked all the boxes so far.
After an appalling decision by the mediation and being badly let down by the solicitor representing me, I thought everyone was against me. I felt so low. Nobody cared. “Then a friend of mine told me about Brendan Fleming Solicitors, so I made an appointment. At the first point of call I met Brendan: he was very professional, reassuring and confident. He made me feel very welcome. He guided me through the process. First class service. I feel as if I can now move forward with confidence, now knowing, at last, that I have someone to back me up with my case. Thank god. I’ve had the first night’s good sleep in two months. Thanks again.”
Brendan fought extremely hard for my daughter; she would have been very proud of him had she been there in the court room: any child would be proud of they way he fought. Children everywhere should know what he did for my daughter. I had two previous solicitors, neither of whom fought for me; but Brendan did. Firstly, he believed in me when other solicitors didn’t; but secondly, he fought so hard on my behalf. He looked into my case and spotted vital things that the experts had missed. He fought with sheer hard work and determination. I have never seen a better family lawyer in my life and can’t thank him enough. I couldn’t have had anyone better and I would recommend him to every mother. This is more than just a job to him. I can’t get over it. All I can say is that he is an angel from Heaven.
We have been exchanging e-mails with Denise Robertson from TV’s This Morning, who holds Brendan Fleming in the highest esteem. We sent several e-mails telling her of our situation with our 3 children being taken into foster care. She was very supportive & understanding of our circumstances. As a result of Denise’s help, Brendan took on our case at a very late stage, when no other solicitors were willing to proceed with matters further and for that we cannot thank him enough.
I am very pleased with Brendan. He doesn’t fail you at all. You walk out of there more than happy. I am quite a nervous person but, with the way that Brendan is, I always feels so more assured.” Gemma was brilliant as well.
I have had my 5 children removed from me. The day I came to Brendan Flemings for help, I passed out outside the office. I was in a very dark place and felt that suicide was my only answer. Today, because you listened to me, because you believed in me and because you supported me, I am now a far cry from the woman who first walked into your office. I have a positive outlook and I am thinking in terms of ‘when I have my children back. I know I have a fight in front of me but now I know I have someone in my corner who believes in me, which makes all the difference.
I watched the video of Brendan at the Stop Forced Adoption conference and thought ‘I want him to be my solicitor.’ After the appointment with Brendan, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
More was done in one appointment with Brendan than my previous solicitors did in nine.
After being plunged into what can only be described as the most traumatic situation an innocent mother can experience, I made a call to Brendan Fleming solicitors. It turned out to be the best call I ever made. I was overwhelmed by the kind and friendly attitude of Sue Hayes who handled my call at a most unsociable hour and who gave me very practical advice at a time when I was highly emotional and not thinking straight. She gave me the strength to fight against a very confusing system and to get my daughter home where she belonged. Brendan Flemings were my solicitors from 1987 until 2001 and I couldn’t have wished for a more pro-active, professional team. Brendan himself was so reassuring during what was often a very stressful time of my life. My sincere thanks to him and all of his team. I have children who are, in the main, happy and well-balanced, now with children of their own. I am proud of them all and none of it would have been possible without you. Thank you.
I went to Brendan Fleming on the recommendation of a friend and I wasn’t disappointed in my choice. I met with Annette Woodall and she talked me through all the costs of what a divorce could be which can be a little intimidating at first. Then I left it too her and she done all the work necessary to complete my divorce whilst managing to keep the cost down too less than £900! You hear a lot of stories about high solicitors charges but Annette got me a great result while avoiding to break the bank!
I was recommended to Annette by a family friend who had previously worked alongside her and highly regards her and her work. From the first meeting, I felt extremely comfortable dealing with Annette and appointed her immediately. Her no nonsense, matter of fact and down to earth approach was refreshing as was her wealth of experience. I had previously met a couple of other solicitors to enquire about handling my divorce, but none of them made me feel as at ease as Annette did. Her no nonsense approach was extremely reassuring particularly when I had to deal some demands my ex-husband made after mediation had taken place and the financial arrangement signed. She was able to advise me and reassure me – it was great to have someone who was ‘on my side’.
I feel confident that I will be able to get the result that I want with Jennifer as my solicitor. The case is going well and I am always kept up to date with what’s going on. The advice given is fine.
I am very pleased with the service. I have no complaints. I am very happy with Annette.
I was very pleased with the service I received from both Annette and Brian. They were both efficient and were good at putting me at ease. Brendan was also very efficient and pleasant in his manner.
Annette has helped me in my divorce over a period of one year. She is really professional and I am very confident in her. She is very straightforward in her explanations, always making things clear, even though it is a very complicated divorce. I am given the best advice at all times and I am really happy with her service.
Annette was brilliant, she talked through everything. She said that obviously divorces are very daunting and scary but Annette always talks things through and makes sure that I understood what was happening and has always been amazing throughout the process. I always felt fully updated and loved the fact that anything which didn’t make sense to me or which I didn’t understand was explained.
I was recommended to Annette at Brendan Fleming by a colleague as I was seeking an expert in legal divorce proceedings. Annette and her team provided an excellent service throughout the process. They were always responsive and pro-active but most importantly sensitive to my requirements and very practical and objective in their guidance and support. I would certainly recommend Annette and her firm to anybody seeking a professional and yet personal service.
Annette Woodall proved to be invaluable in my recent family disputes she was experienced , dedicated and understanding, I felt even though she was under pressure from the other side , Annette kept her cool and pressed ahead in a professional and reliable way I would highly recommend Annette’s services to anybody who has had the unfortunate twist of fate and who find themselves needing representation in the Family courts , I can not praise her enough and remain eternally grateful that I was represented by somebody who gets the job done.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you Salvia, for all of your efforts. You were very understanding, empathetic and non-judgmental regarding my situation and handled the case very well. I would definitely recommend Brendan Fleming Solicitors to anyone looking to be represented by a high-quality professional service.
I was first attracted to Brendan Fleming by their philosophy of non-confrontation in divorce and a conciliatory approach as described on their website – and goodness knows divorce is a stressful process – so I found this rather appealing. Annette Woodall represented me and I cannot praise her highly enough. She epitomises the Company’s values and I found her to be both rigorous and hardworking in helping achieve a workable and realistic outcome. She was always the consummate professional, exploring all angles and making sure nothing was overlooked and never baulked at going that extra mile. Annette also showed great compassion and humour that helped me retain my sanity in the divorce process. I would not hesitate to recommend Annette as a highly skilled, personable and professional divorce advocate.
I would like to say a big thank you to Brendan Fleming Solicitors and especially Charley Kelly for all the help and support over the last three years. I first contacted Brendan Fleming Solicitors in 2013 when the local authority were seeking removal of our son. Charley Kelly is great, she gave us great support she’s there day and night she has done all the statements attending court always there when we need to ask advice she never judges she tells us the truth she never hides anything she thought for a year with us to get our son home we have now had him home for two years on a care order plus parent reg now the local authority are trying yet again to remove our son and we have yet again turned to Brendan Fleming Solicitors as we know from experience this firm is 100% about keeping children with their families.
Your company has helped me out so much and I’d come back again again and again. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me out with my case…and I am so glad that Charley Kelly ain`t leaving cuz she is really good at her job
Without your support and fantastic knowledge into the care system etc and doing all the ‘behind the scenes’ work to fight for me and my children I wouldn’t be here in a better place. I’ll always be grateful to you and Mr Pearce.
My husband and I appreciate all the support and hard work very much that both Dawn and Gemma gave us during what has been the most traumatic experience of our lives to date. It will never be forgotten…. Despite never being directly accused of anything ourselves, we have had two of our children removed and in some way still feel as though we are guilty until proven innocent. It has been hard to comprehend. Perhaps I could give credit to your organization for being ‘that listening ear at a time in need,’ being readily available at all hours, going above and beyond the call of duty and supporting us. At times, I’ve been sick of the sound of my own voice; God only knows how Dawn and Gemma must feel. They are a credit to your business, representatives to be proud of and they never fail to impress. A genuine thank you from us both.”
Dawn, I can’t find the words to express how I feel about what you have done for my family. I can’t thank you enough. If only I knew than what I know now: that the most important thing is to have a good solicitor. And you are the best: I never would have got my boys back if it weren’t for you. I have learned so much in the short space of time in which you represented me. Thank you till the end of the numbers.
You have done so much for me and been there whenever I needed to speak. I have included a picture of my daughter which you can keep if you like as reminder of how happy you have made her mummy and how happy I am that I decided to go with your firm. Thank you so much, Dawn. There will never be enough I can do to repay you.
I get on really well with Dawn; she will help me whatever the problem. We meet up every week. Her work is brilliant: I feel so much more support than I did from my previous solicitors. I’d definitely recommend her for employee of the week; she is a great solicitor.
Dawn is absolutely wonderful. I wish we had gone with her from the start. Compared to her, our previous solicitors were ‘professional losers.’ I would definitely support an application for Dawn to be made employee of the week – she deserves it.
Dawn is absolutely fantastic. I would never have got so far without her and now I am really close to getting my daughter back. I would not be where I am now without Dawn and Brendan. Dawn works every hour God sends to help your case. I keep recommending them to other people in my situation. Keep up the good work!
Dawn is truly a wonderful person, she has gone the extra mile for me and my children; she is always at the end of the phone, anytime of day or night; and has worked relentlessly to get my children back home to me. She always made me feel hopeful and is a complete professional and warm human being. Dawn arranged an Independent Social Worker Assessment which was in our favour, for which I cannot thank her enough. I know that it is only due to Dawn and Brendan, along with the work that we have done as a family, that my children are coming home. I am so happy!!
I am so confident in Dawn and Brendan. Every day I speak to them, I believe more and more that, one day soon, my daughter will be back home with me. They are very passionate about their jobs and I would recommend them to anyone as solicitors. I owe them so much already. They are fantastic.
At the appointment excellent advice was given and I am really happy with the service so far. Charlotte is dealing with my case and she is really helpful.
Thank you for believing me, the advice and support you gave me has meant that L-M gets to stay in my care. She means everything to me, you have changed our lives forever.
Thank you for all your help, I kept my son because of you. I will never forget that.
I just wanted to email to say thank you for the support. I have absolutely no doubt that if I had gone to a different firm or had a different solicitor, my child would not have come home to me. I am so grateful that you listened to me. I know there were some difficult conversations but I fully accept that they needed to take place. Your advice was spot on. I cannot recommend you highly enough!! Michaela is and was wonderful. Thank you always and forever.
I could not have done this without Michaela, she has undertaken so much work and progressed this case, it has not only helped me but the children so much, I could not be more happy with how I have been represented. Michaela has always kept me informed and explained the law and the process in a way that I understand. I would have no hesitation in instructing Michaela again in any other family matter and I would highly recommend her and the firm to others. Michaela has gone above and beyond, because of her work the children are now placed in my care.
Michaela Beale is an exceptional solicitor and were a member of my family to require the services of a lawyer in a care case, I would recommend her as a ‘go to’ representative. From the work I have done with her, it is clear that she is consistently practical and proactive. When challenging a local authority in a case, this robust approach is vital in ensuring that the clients position is optimised. Michaela’s judgement in proceedings is unparalleled and she always manages to combine efficient professionalism with a human touch.
My experience of working with Michaela has been absolutely positive. She keeps me up to date and responds quickly to my enquiries and requests. She is easy to work with and very courteous. It great working with her.
Michaela is really great. She is helpful and supportive and was there when I needed her. She did a great job.
Michaela is really good, helpful and very friendly. She has given me an excellent service and I would definitely recommend her to others.
Thanks to you and your team for all of your help: you are the best solicitor I have ever had!
Vicky and Michaela are very good and helpful. They always come back quickly with information I have requested and they are very accommodating to me.
Michaela was brilliant, she was absolutely fantastic and was a good sport who gave 100%. She was very helpful and explained things very well. My son has learning difficulties and Michaela explained things so well to him that he understood everything. She was very helpful and did an excellent job. I would recommend Brendan Fleming Solicitors straight away.
Three years ago I would have never have dreamed that I would have all three children in my care. Michaela did an excellent job and managed to keep the children in my care. My advice is always listen to your solicitor. That’s what I did. 99% of the time Michaela was right; but if she said something that I didn’t agree with, we sat down, got our heads together and came up with a different solution. I have all three children in my care because I listened to my solicitor. I would definitely recommend Brendan Fleming Solicitors as firm; but in particular I would recommend Michaela as a solicitor and Ed Pearce in the Court.
I would like to say a big thank you to Brendan Fleming Solicitors and especially Charley Kelly for all the help and support over the last three years I first contacted Brenden Fleming solicitors in 2013 when the local authority was seeking removal of our son. Charley Kelly is great she gave us great support she’s there day and night she has done all the statements attending court always there when we need to ask advice, she never judges, she tells us the truth she never hides anything. Charley fought for a year with us to get our son home we have now had him home for two years on a care order. Now the local authority are trying yet again to remove our son and we have yet again turned to Brendan Fleming Solicitors as we know from experience this firm is 100% about keeping children with their families.