These are Court Proceedings Cases brought by Social Services Department of the Council (In our area; Devon County Council or Somerset County Council) to protect children. It is the job of Social Services to make sure that children are safe.
The Threshold Criteria
The Council must demonstrate, with evidence (on a balance of probabilities) that the threshold criteria have been met. this is that;
That the child must be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.
And that the harm or likelihood of harm must be attributable to one of the following:
a) The care given to the child, or likely to be given if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give; or
b) The child being beyond parental control.
If the Council can do this, the Court will then go on to consider whether making a Care Order or Supervision Order would be in the child’s best interests.
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Representing Parents and Grandparents
These cases are a result of very serious allegations. The stakes could not be higher. At the end of case the evidence may show that there is a significant risk of harm, or that significant harm has happened. If the evidence also shows that a child cannot safely be returned to one or both of their parents, or to another family member, then the child will either remain in foster care or adopted.
We have all read of cases where Social Services have got things wrong, and not intervened and children have suffered harm.
We have acted in cases where they have got it wrong, and interfered in a family, when there is not sufficient evidence to justify it. Also where parents have been unjustifiably written off and excellent and loving Grandparents and other family members have been overlooked as alternative carers.
We have succeeded in these cases through robust representation and focusing on challenging bad evidence and gathering good evidence.
There are cases where at the end, children are returned to, or stay with their parents, but once a case is in Court this is not always easy to achieve and requires good advice by the Solicitor and a lot of hard work by the parent.
The Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme (also known as the Children Panel)
The Children Law Accreditation Scheme covers all types of children law work but is especially relevant to care proceedings. Members will have shown, to the satisfaction of the Law Society, that they have and will maintain a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice in the area of children law. Membership has to be renewed every five years and the number of members is relatively small.
Ian Walker, Kim Stradling, Sandy Powell and David Howell-Richardson have each been a member of the Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme for over 20 years..
We have all successfully acted for mothers, fathers, grandparents, other family members and children over the years.
Parents are entitled to FREE representation in Care Proceedings REGARDLESS OF MEANS.
Other family Members may also get Legal Aid. PLEASE ASK
We are Contracted with the Legal Aid Agency and are able to assist.
Information about Care Proceedings
Below is a link to the Coram Children’s Legal Centre which provides some good information about the Care Proceedings and Children’s Rights generally.