Any parent facing a care proceeding has every right to be afraid. With so much misinformation going around online, finding credible sources that provide clear, concise guidance on legal matters can be challenging.
This article by Lextox aims to dispel certain fallacies and provide a better understanding of how the law works by responding to several frequently asked questions about care proceedings.
What Are The Factors To Consider To Initiate The Child Care Process?
A care or supervision order application is a court procedure issued by the local authority’s children’s services department. Child care processes are legal proceedings in which child services ask the court for permission to intervene on behalf of a child who is deemed to be in imminent danger. Here are the key considerations for initiating child care process:
- The local government’s social services office initiates care proceedings when a child is being harmed or is at serious risk of being harmed, and the social services office believes it must intervene in the child’s care.
- The local government must file a petition with the court to get a care order. Public law courts have jurisdiction over these cases and are usually only brought up when all other, less formal, avenues for improving the child’s well-being have been exhausted.
- If a local government agency determines that a child is in imminent danger of ‘severe harm,’ it may commence care procedures for that child.
- The local government is responsible for proving that a child’s injury meets the ‘threshold requirements’ set forth in the Children Act of 1989. They may believe the child is neglected or the parents have little control over their behavior.
- It’s possible for the police to temporarily remove children from their parents’ care for up to 72 hours in cases of emergency using police protection powers. Otherwise, a court order is required before children can be taken away from their parents.
What Happens After A Child Care Proceedings Is Initiated?
There are several legal processes in the care proceedings before making a final decision. Here’s a rundown of the legal stages involved:
- Suppose social services decides your child needs to be taken from you before the final hearing. In that case, they’ll ask the court for an Interim Care Order or Emergency Protection Order. Also, they’ll file a document called a care plan stating where the child should live and what contact should be in place for each parent.
- If the care plan needs to be adjusted, the lawyer can speak with the other legal counsels in the case.
- Case Management Hearings are typically scheduled after the initial hearing. By the 13th day following application submission, this must have been completed. Before making a final decision, the court will hold a second hearing to decide what evaluations, statements, reports, and evidence should be given to the court.
- The next step is an ‘Issues Resolution Hearing,’ where parents can settle contentious issues, including visitation and custody. A final hearing may not be necessary if an agreement is reached.
- A final hearing will be scheduled if an accord cannot be reached.
- Decisions about the child’s long-term future, such as where they will live, will be made during this last hearing. Before the final hearing, the court will require a written statement, so having a lawyer specializes in care proceedings can be beneficial.
What Occurs During The Last Hearing?
At the last hearing, the judge can issue various final orders.
- Care Order. An individual’s parental rights are transferred to the local government in the case of a care order. Unless the order is terminated earlier, your children will likely stay in the custody of the local authority until they turn 18.
- Child Arrangements Order. For as long as the order is in effect, your children may live with a relative or close friend. The order will specify the location of their primary residence and any visitation or communication requirements between you and that person.
- Supervision Order. With this order, the government will not take legal custody of your kids. As long as this injunction stands, the government will keep tabs on how you treat your kids.
- Special Guardianship Order. An alternative legal document, a ‘Special Guardianship Order,’ can be used to have a relative or friend take custody of your kids. A special guardianship order is more permanent than a residence order, making it more difficult for a parent to request to have the order revoked.
Trying to ignore or hoping the problem will disappear or resolve itself can only worsen the child care proceedings. If any of your minor children are defendants, you are entitled to legal representation. It’s highly suggested that you seek the help of a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible to have the resources and guidance you need to state your case in court.