Our specialist social services solicitors and care proceedings solicitors are able to support you through a range of child protection matters.
Care proceedings are frightening. It is very difficult and stressful when social services are involved with your family, and you may feel powerless when dealing with professional people, meetings, and court hearings in care proceedings. It is devastating to think your child could be removed from you.
We will be on your side and guide you through the process. We will give sensible and clear advice that gives you the best chance of achieving what you want for you and your children.
Social services Solicitors
We can advise and support you right from when a social worker first gets in touch with you. Wherever possible we will attend meetings with you.
In cases where the local authority applies for a court order on your children (usually called care proceedings) we will help you get legal aid and represent you at court hearings. We will speak up for you during the court assessment process. We understand how important it is for you to have workable contact arrangements with your children if they are not living with you and we will involve the court to achieve this wherever necessary.
We have experience representing parents and other family members in all sorts of situations which lead to care proceedings. These include cases where the local authority is concerned children are being neglected and where family members are accused of injuring or abusing children.
Complex situations and allegations
Our social services solicitors and care proceedings solicitors have extensive experience representing parents and other family members facing allegations in various situations leading to court. We have extensive experience in all of the complex situations which can occur such as allegations of shaken baby syndrome, and cases involving complex and conflicting medical evidence including fabricated or induced illness as well as cases involving allegations of all forms of abuse.
Our experience means we are often instructed by Children’s Guardians to represent children in care proceedings.
As well as acting for parents our social services solicitors and care proceedings solicitors also represent other family members such as grandparents, uncles and aunts who want to care for children.
Our highly skilled and experienced team includes seven SRA Children Panel members who have approaching 100 years of Children Panel experience. These solicitors are accredited by the SRA as specialists in this area.
Should I sign a section 20 agreement?
The local authority has a duty to make sure that children are safe in their area and not exposed to significant harm. Harm falls into a number of different categories (physical, emotional, sexual and neglect).
If the local authority is concerned about the welfare of your children, then they may ask you whether you would agree to the children being looked after by somebody else temporarily whilst the local authority investigates their concerns. This would be a “section 20” agreement.
Often, people feel that the local authority have not given them a choice regarding signing the agreement and believe that it is something that must be done. However, these arrangements are voluntary and you do not need to agree to your children being taken out of your care. It is important that you seek urgent advice to discuss your options in this situation. Please contact Louise Law, our customer relationship manager, on 0191 232 9547.
Why are the local authority involved with my children?
The local authority has a duty to make sure that children are not at risk of significant harm.
In a situation where a child’s parent is the victim of domestic abuse, this can cause a child significant emotional harm. If they are exposed to abuse this may cause them distress in the long term. Even where they do not witness the abuse directly, a child will be aware of the atmosphere around the time of the incident. These circumstances are emotionally damaging to a child.
If your partner has been abusive towards you, please contact Louise Law, our customer relationship manager, on 0191 232 9547.
The local authority are concerned about my use of drugs; what should I do?
The local authority will be concerned about your substance use because of the impact it may have on your child. There are a number of reasons that your use of drugs may impact your child, and will cause the local authority some worry.
- Drugs impact your decision making.
- You may not be able to respond as you ordinarilyy would in an emergency.
- If you are taking drugs, you need to get these from a supplier. Drug-dealers tend to be (or to associate with) dangerous people
If the local authority are involved in your family, and you are taking drugs, it is very tempting to try and hide this fact. However, professionals can only help you if they know what the problems are. If the local authority suspect that you are not being honest with them regarding your drug use, they may ask for you to undertake for a hair strand test.
These tests are very accurate, sensitive, and reliable and therefore any dishonesty will be revealed. If you either refuse to give a sample, cut your hair so that a sample can’t be taken, or treat your hair to minimise (e.g. with heat treatments or bleach etc.) before the sample is taken then the Court can infer that you have done this in order to hide your true use of drugs.
We can provide you with advice about the Local Authority’s involvement in your family, please contact Louise Law, our customer relationship manager, on 0191 232 9547.
Why are the local authority trying to punish me for my poor mental health?
If the local authority has concerns about the welfare of your child, then they may issue an application to Court for the Court to decide where your child should live in the long term.
The poor mental health of a parent can impact a child in a lot of ways, such as:
- If they cannot control their emotions and they put their child at risk of
- Poor mental health can affect a person’s ability to be emotionally available for their child, which can be deeply upsetting and emotionally harmful.
- It can also affect a person’s motivation to undertake routine jobs such as cleaning the house, doing laundry and cooking. Whilst these things may not be problematic in the short term, if the problems persist in the long term they can be seriously detrimental to a child’s wellbeing.
If you have poor mental health and it is impacting the welfare of your child, the local authority has a duty to step in. This does not mean that they are punishing you for your mental health. The local authority has a duty to safeguard children. Professionals will work with you to try and improve things, but if things cannot be improved in a timescale that is safe for your child, then they may issue care proceedings. We can advise you and represent you at court, please contact Louise Law, our customer relationship manager, on 0191 232 9547.