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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?

12. How do I prepare for the final hearing?

13. What happens at the final hearing?

14. How does the court make its decision?

The court can make a care or supervision order only if it believes that the ‘threshold criteria’ have been reached. The ‘threshold criteria’ mean that:

  • your child has been seriously harmed or is at risk of being seriously harmed in the future; and
  • this harm is because you have not given your child the care reasonably expected of a parent, or because your child is out of your control.

Harm can include a child ‘seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another’, as well as being ill-treated themselves.

If the court finds that the threshold criteria have been met, it may decide it must make an order because, even if you have been trying your hardest, you still can’t provide the right care for your child.

The court can make an order only if it believes that this will help your child. In most cases, the court will look at whether:

  • it thinks that the harm or risk of harm is likely to happen again; and
  • you are willing and able to deal with the council’s concerns about your child’s care.

If the court believes it should make an order, it will decide what is in your child’s best interests according to the ‘welfare principle’ and a list of factors known as the ‘welfare checklist’. The welfare principle states that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. The welfare checklist includes things like the child’s wishes and feelings, their age and sex, and any risk of harm.

The court will decide what order to make after considering:

  • the council’s care plan; and
  • what you and the guardian and any court-appointed expert say would be best for your child.

The order should be the minimum needed to protect your child.

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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