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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?

The court appoints an independent person, called a guardian, to give information and an opinion about what is best for your child. This person is from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). The guardian does not work for the council – they work for the court and represent your child in the case.

The guardian’s job is to make sure that everyone works in the child’s best interests. They will find out why the council is concerned about your child and what steps it has taken to help you put things right. The guardian will talk to your child about the situation (if he or she is old enough), and what he or she would like to happen. The guardian will also read the council’s files on the case.

The guardian will want to see you to find out what has happened. It is important to talk to your solicitor before you meet the guardian. You may want to make a list of all the important things you want to say. You may also want to ask a family member or friend to be with you at the meetings for support. You can ask the guardian to talk to other people who know you and your child.

The guardian will prepare a written report for the court stating what action they believe would be in the child’s best interests. Your solicitor should receive a copy of this report at least 14 days before the final hearing. The court will normally follow the recommendations in the guardian’s report. If the court does not follow the guardian’s recommendations, it should explain why.

The guardian will also help the court to choose a solicitor to act for your child in the proceedings. This solicitor is selected from a list of solicitors who are on the Law Society’s Children Panel because they specialise in representing children in care proceedings. The solicitor’s job is to present your child’s views to the court.

If your child is very young, the solicitor will talk to him or her but will also work closely with the guardian about what your child wants and needs and how this should be presented to the court. However, if your child is old enough to understand what is happening, the solicitor will work with your child directly.

Normally, the solicitor will take instructions from the guardian, but if your child does not agree with the guardian’s views, the solicitor must take instructions from your child directly. In these circumstances, the guardian will still report to the court, but will no longer be represented by the same solicitor as your child.

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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