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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?

If you receive either a ‘letter before proceedings’ or a court notice, it is very important that you see a solicitor to get some legal advice immediately. You may be upset or angry or feel that nobody is listening to you, so you will need someone to represent you and explain what is happening. Choose a solicitor who knows the law about children and how the courts make decisions in these types of cases. These solicitors are usually members of the Children Panel of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. You can get details of Children Panel solicitors from:

  • a Citizens Advice Bureau;
  • the Family Rights Group;
  • Gurkha Free Legal Advice; or
  • the Law Society.

See ‘Further help’ for contact details.

As a parent you will not have to pay your solicitor. Parents and other people with parental responsibility involved in care proceedings can get public money (legal aid) to pay their solicitor’s fees. You can get this however much income or capital you have. It pays for what is known as Level 2 advice and should cover the cost of negotiating with the council as well as court proceedings. You should take the letter before proceedings or the court notice with you to your solicitor, as it will enable them to get the public funding.

The solicitor will act on your behalf in dealing with the council and can represent you in court (although he or she may decide you need a barrister to represent you in court).

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?

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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