Letter Before Proceedings
If the Local Authority are worried about how a child is being looked after they can issue a letter before proceedings, this letter is a final notice to the child’s parents detailing the Local Authorities concerns. Please contact us immediately if you receive one of these letters. It is very important that you follow the instructions in the letter otherwise you may have to go to Court and your child could be taken into care.
Pre-Proceedings or PLO (Public Law Outline) meeting
This meeting will be attended by the parents, Children’s Services and their legal representatives. The Local Authority will present a “contract of expectations” which informs the parents what is expected of them in respect of their child in order to reduce the concerns the Local Authority has about the child or children in question.
Care proceedings are likely to be initiated if these changes are not made and the Local Authority continue to have concerns for a child’s safety.
Our experienced team will be able to talk you through the process, advise you of your rights, arrange for one of our team to attend at any meetings and to arrange for you to be represented at court.
Going to Court
Before the first court hearing your child’s social worker has to provide information to the court to explain why the Local Authority have concerns about your child. If you are regarded as a party to the proceeding you will get copies of all the papers and reports given to the court, you have the right to be at court hearings and the opportunity to put your views across.
Information may be kept away from you if telling you could put another person at risk.
There are several possible outcomes at the end of Care Proceedings which could be decided by the court;
Care Order – The Local Authority decides where the child will live and with whom, and also has the final say on important decisions relating to the child. A full Care Order lasts until the child is 18, but may be ended by the Court before then.
Supervision Order – This means Children’s Services will supervise the care you are providing to your child. Initially a supervision order lasts for one year. The supervisor can apply to the court to extend a supervision order but it can only be in place for a maximum of three years.
Residence Order – A residence order is a court order which decides the person or people with whom a child will live.
Special Guardianship Order – This says your child will live with another person such as a family member. This is a more permanent arrangement than a Residence Order because it is more difficult for a parent to apply to end (discharge) it.
Secure Accommodation Order – The court can make a secure accommodation order where a young person has a history of running away or is likely to run away from any other kind of accommodation and if they do so could suffer significant harm. An order can also be made if the young person is likely to injure themselves or other people if they are not placed in Secure Accommodation.
Placement Order – If a possible adoptive family has been identified as being suitable to meet the needs of your child, this order can be made so that the social worker can arrange for your child to go and live with this family. This is called being placed for adoption.
Contact Order – This order details the contact arrangements for your child for after the court case has finished.
Emergency Protection Orders
Anyone can apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order if they fear that a child is in danger. For example, if a family member has very serious concerns that a child is being abused, they could apply for an emergency protection order. These applications are usually made by the Local Authority but the police or the NSPCC could also make these applications.
An Emergency Protection Order can be made for a maximum period of 8 days initially, with a possible extension to a maximum of 15 days overall.
A non-accidental injury means that an injury to a child has been caused by a parent’s or carer’s actions or neglect. This could include for example a broken bone, bruising, a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain or bleeding behind the eyes. These injuries and others need a specialist medical expert to look at the injuries and to consider how they might have been caused.
If a non-accidental injury of a child is suspected due to in injury with no reasonable explanation children’s services will usually become involved and care proceedings will be started by the Local Authority.
What our clients say
Gill Noury is an excellent International Family Law Senior Legal Advisor. As my international child abduction case progressed in 2014 to a fortunate consent order after 5 months of intense legal battle I realized she was highly experienced and hands on. She not only provided me very good legal advice, but was also very sympathetic to my distraught situation. She was accessible all the times I needed to communicate with her or needed her personal support. She was at the same time very professional and demonstrated high integrity and human values. I found these attributes scarce in UK’s legal practitioner.
We run a legal surgery here at our advice and drop in centre specifically for our clients who have experienced domestic abuse. A&N have been a constant support to this surgery over the year providing an invaluable service, they have been committed to the provision of legal aid advice and pro bono clinics and as such have enhanced the service provision which we are able to offer to our clients.
Strategic Head of Service
Derbyshire Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Service
Helen was absolutely fantastic, the case was long and difficult but Helen was there for me when I needed her on the telephone and at court. She didn’t beat about the bush and gave me constructive criticism which I appreciated. My kids are now safely home with me where they belong and they love the teddies you sent for them. It was a really lovely thought, Thank you for everything.
Liz Newbold & Her team were great from the very first phone call to the final court date, they did nothing but help whether it was a phone call or an email they got back to you as soon as they could. They were there for support when you needed it the most and they always put there all into every court date we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better solicitors to handle my case regarding my child. It was great to finally get victory and show we were not guilty, we couldn’t have achieved what we have done today without the help of Liz Newbold and her team of highly specialised solicitors and I am forever thankful for everything they have done for me and my family.
I’ve been working with A&N Care Solicitors since I was in PLO. I was in an OK place, then an incident occurred in July 2014 which resulted in the local authority taking away my child in to care. She went up for adoption last year in March but I kept fighting with the help of A&N care solicitors and did all that was asked. I fell pregnant and thought I couldn’t keep it, but nope, my solicitors and I kept fighting and I’ve had my daughter return from birth home. It’s resulted in my older daughter coming home too and not being adopted. I really have to say though without the help of Natalie and Ruth from A&N Care I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would recommend these to anybody if you are fighting for your children. Thank you very much A&N you are the best family law firm I’ve ever known.