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29 Care Proceedings

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1. Introduction

2. Who can make decisions about my child´s care?

3. Why would the council get involved in my child’s care?

4. What if the council thinks my child is in immediate danger?

5. What should happen before the council decides to apply for a care order?

6. Can I get help to pay for a lawyer?

7. What happens when the council starts care proceedings?

8. Who will represent my child during proceedings?

9. What happens at the First Appointment?

10. What orders can the court make at the First Appointment?

11. What happens after an interim order is made?

There will be other interim hearings after the First Appointment, where the court will continue to look at:

  • where your child will live until the final hearing;
  • who he or she will see;
  • how the case is proceeding.

You should keep in close touch with your solicitor about what is likely to happen at these interim hearings. If you think the temporary arrangements are wrong for your child, you should discuss with your solicitor whether or not to ask the court at an interim hearing to reconsider them – for example, the arrangements for your child to see members of the family.

Two important hearings are:

  • the ‘case management conference’. This usually takes place within 45 days of the proceedings being started. The court will look carefully at the care plan, see whether directions given at the First Appointment have been complied with, and decide what else is needed before the final hearing; and
  • the ‘issues resolution hearing’. This takes place later, four to six months from the start of proceedings. It looks particularly at any issues that are still not agreed and that the court will need to decide at the final hearing. If everything is agreed, a final hearing may not be necessary.

Your solicitor will normally meet the lawyers representing the council and any other people involved in the case before these hearings (known as holding an ‘advocates meeting’). It is really important that you work closely with your solicitor before these meetings, so that he or she knows what you think and what you want. If you don’t have a solicitor and are representing yourself, the court will give directions about how you can be involved in this ‘advocates meeting’. You should not be entirely excluded from it.

All the way through the case, the court will be encouraging everyone involved to try to find and agree safe solutions for your child without having to come back to court. There may be other ways of resolving any disagreement (known as ‘alternative dispute resolution’) – through a Family Group Conference, for example, or through family mediation, where an outsider acts as a go-between in disputes between members of the family. If you have not already had an FGC before the case started in court, you can still ask for one now. See ‘Further help’ for where to find more information.

12. How do I prepare for the final hearing?

13. What happens at the final hearing?

14. How does the court make its decision?

15. What types of order can the court make?

16. What must the council do after a care order is made?

17. How can I apply to end a care order?

18. Further help

19. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was written, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See ‘Further help’ for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Family Rights Group.

Leaflet Version: October 2008

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