Kim Stradling: Child Law Expert

Frequently Asked Questions – Children Law

This section of the website endeavours to provide answers to frequently asked questions.

In the tab above you will find links to FAQs in respect of divorce, family law and children law and cohabitation. And you will find answers to the questions about family mediation in the main FAQ tab.

The answers are necessarily general. They are information – and in some cases detailed information but they are not advice. Advice is something which is specific to you and your situation. We can only give advice as to the best options for your if we know a lot about your individual circumstances.

These FAQs can be a starting point in your journey to sort out difficulties. But the next step should be to arrange a meeting with one of our team of experts.

We are ready to help…

FAQ's Child Care Law

It is important to remember that social services are required by law to ensure that the children who are living in their area are safe.

If social services contact the family because they are concerned for the welfare of children, then they will have information which will cause them to be concerned.

In our experience, social services will normally wish to work with families to resolve the problems which caused social services to contact the family in the first place. The social worker’s will wish to be reassured that the children are safe so that they can close their file.

Resolving the case could be demonstrating to social services that the information they had which cause them concern was wrong. Alternatively, the case could be resolved by working with social services to make changes (big and/or small) to get things on a better footing.

There are different levels of child protection. Most families who encounter social services where there are concerns about child welfare do not end up in court.

A parent does not have to work with social services. However, if a parent tells social services to go away – the social worker will still have the same concerns about child welfare. They will also be concerned that the parent is uncooperative and may not be focused on the needs of their child.

Telling social services to go away is much more likely to result in the case being escalated. This could mean legal proceedings and there could be a risk that children would be removed from the family.

No one is perfect. As parents we all get things wrong from time to time.

In our experience, parents are normally most successful in avoiding court proceedings if they cooperate with social services. This normally means accepting there is a problem and making changes.

If social services have concerns about the welfare of your family – then it is a good idea to seek legal advice from an experienced child law specialist. There is a level of legal aid available for free advice. If a letter threatening court action has been received, then legal aid is non-means tested. If there is no letter threatening court action – legal aid is available but is subject to a means test. Those in receipt of universal credit will be entitled to legal aid (provided they also pass the assessment of capital/savings).

To close the file, the social worker will wish to have confidence that the children are safe and that the care they are receiving is good enough. The parent does not have to be perfect.

For the social worker to have confidence that changes will be maintained means that the social worker will need to trust the parents.

If the case ends up in court,  if children are to remain with their parents at the end of the court proceedings, then the court will need to trust that the parent will be able to provide good enough care of the child for the rest of their childhood.

Trust in a parent from social workers and the court is therefore very very important.

Over the years we have seen lots of cases where parents have lied to social workers and to the court. When these lies are discovered (as often they are), the lie becomes more of a problem to the parent than the reason why social services became involved in the first place.

No one expects parents to be perfect – but the parents to succeed, they need to except where things have gone wrong and make changes and they also need to be trusted.

Owning up to a mistake shows that the parent is being open and honest. They may have made a mistake but because they have owned up, this suggests they can still be trusted.

Being caught out having lied means a parent cannot be trusted and will have to work harder to get back to a situation where the social workers and/or court can trust them.

Therefore, lying to social services is not a good idea. It normally makes the situation worse.

Sometimes what has gone wrong is so bad that telling the truth will not save the family from being broken up. However, if things are really bad, being honest and telling the truth about how bad things are can still help to achieve better outcomes.

Every case is different.

If something has gone wrong and you are thinking that the answer is to try and lie your way out of it – then we would strongly urge you to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Is there a penalty for lying to social services?

Lying to social services is not a criminal offence and so in that sense there is not a penalty.

However, it is important to remember why social services became involved with the family. This is because they wanted to make sure that the children in the family was safe and were being looked after to a good enough standard.

As we have explained in the answer to the question: what happens if you lie to social services?  the best way of achieving a good outcome is through working with social services and through social services being able to trust that the children are safe and being cared for to a good enough standard.

The penalty for lying to social services could well be that social services feel that they have no option other than to take the case to court.

The judge will also wants to be able to trust parents to look after their children safely and to good enough standard – and if the judge is of the view that parents cannot be trusted – then the penalty is that their children will not be returned to their care.

Lying to social services is therefore very risky.

If you are in a mess and you are thinking that you could try and lie to social services to make them go away – then you really do need to get some urgent legal advice from a solicitor who is experienced in children law.

The best way to win a case with social services is to stop it from going to court in the first place.

Being a social worker is not an easy job. Many social workers have too many cases and many of the people that they deal with are not friendly or communicative.

The best way to get social services on your side is to work with them.

This means being polite and friendly. It also means being open and honest.

No one is perfect – so you need to accept and understand where things have gone wrong. If social services suggest that you work with someone else – for example a counsellor or a domestic abuse service, then follow their advice.

Be reliable, both with the social worker and with other professionals you are dealing with.

There are often lots of demands on parents and not all parents are as well-organised as each other. If you can’t make an appointment – best to contact the person who you were going to see first and rearrange.

If you say that you are going to do something then do it.

Recognise that the social worker is probably overworked. There may be times that they are not able to deliver what they say they are going to do. Be patient with them.

If you don’t have a diary – it’s probably a good idea to get one to make sure you don’t miss appointments.

Make sure that you keep credit on your phone so you don’t miss telephone calls.

Be a pleasure to work with.

All cases are different. Sometimes what has brought social services to a family is very very serious. It is therefore always a good idea to get legal advice from an experienced child law solicitor if social services become involved with your family.

The Public Law Outline was introduced in 2014. This introduced new rules and expectations as to how care proceedings were managed. The public law outline also introduced pre-Court proceeding meetings called PLO meetings.

We have a whole page on our website which talks about the PLO/public law outline. There is a link to this page here

What constitutes a win against social services would depend upon what the case is about. In most cases, a win could be ensuring that your family stays together. In some cases a win could be being allowed to maintain regular contact with your children.

The question is however a little misleading. Asking about winning against social services also implies that the case has to be a battle and social services are always going to be against you.

From our experience, it is often that if the case ends up with a contested final hearing – then the result is unlikely to be what the parents want to happen.

Cases are usually won and lost before the case gets to court or early on in the case.

In order to win parents need to show that they accept where they have gone wrong and can demonstrate that they are able to put things right. No one is perfect and sometimes parents can make quite big mistakes. Rather than trying to pretend that these mistakes haven’t happened it is normally best to be open about what has happened and where things have gone wrong.

Cases are one through building good working relationships with social workers and other professionals and demonstrating that you can do better and that you can provide good enough care for your children and this care can be sustained.

Winning is also about showing that you can be trusted in the future.

A best result for a social worker is usually for the social worker to demonstrate their skills in working with families and with children and to enable a family to stay together. Therefore if everyone works together there can be win/wins. Where this happens the biggest winners are the children.

All cases are different and the specific steps that need to be taken will vary from case to case depending on the facts. It is therefore always a good idea to get good legal advice from a child law specialist as soon as possible.

Sometimes the working relationship between a parent and a social worker can become quite strained.

The parent may find that the social worker is unreliable or records things incorrectly.

A social services department will have a complaints procedure and parents can make complaints about the conduct of their social worker. A request could also be made to the social worker’s manager or to the director of social services to ask for the social worker to be changed.

It is often not a good idea to make a complaint about the social worker or to overly focus upon the social worker being the problem. More often the best way to resolve a difficult relationship with the social worker is for the parent to grit their teeth and to make a real effort to work with the social worker so that the social worker is able to confirm that social services no longer need to be involved with the family.

Making a complaint about a social worker could result in the complaint not being accepted by social services and the fact that a complaint has been made could be used to show that the parent finds it difficult to work with professionals and are not truly focusing on the needs of their children. The complaint could therefore be very counter-productive.

Sometimes complaints are justified – but if you are in a situation where you are not happy with your social worker, it is a good idea to seek legal advice from a solicitor who is experienced in child law.

The answer to this question is yes and no.

There is no law that requires a parent to attend a meeting called by social services. If the parent does not attend they are not going to be fined or sent to prison.

However, if a parent does not attend social services meetings this will not make social services go away and it may well be that the case will escalate to court proceedings. If the case is already in court proceedings then the non-attendance would be used as evidence of unreliability.

So the correct answer to the question is – yes – you do have to attend meetings with social services.

If the meeting is a PLO meeting – and you have received a letter threatening court action – then free legal aid is available so that you can have a solicitor attend with your.

If there has not been a PLO letter and the meeting is for example a children in need meeting or a child protection conference, then your solicitor is not allowed to attend or contribute to the meeting, but you may want to take some legal advice before you go along. A more limited type of legal aid is available for advice about social services. This is means tested but most parents who receive universal credit should qualify for the legal aid (there is also a savings test as well as an income test).

Remember – the best way to resolve the case with social services is by working with social services. Attending meetings is a way of showing that you want to work together and that you are reliable.

We have a page concerning Child Law Accreditation

The children panel is an accreditation scheme that is run by the Law Society. Members of the Law Society Children Panel – also known as the Law Society Child Law Accreditation Scheme are recognised as experts in child law. The accreditation scheme is highly regarded. Our team includes several solicitors who members of the Law Society Children Panel.

We have a whole page on special guardianship on our website which can be found here

In brief, special guardianship is like a cross between a residence order and an adoption order. It is a permanent residence order. These orders are common in social services cases and are a good way of enabling children to remain within their family if the court reaches the conclusion that their parents will not be able to provide good enough care of the children for the rest of their childhood.

You should always choose a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel/Child Law Accreditation Scheme. The solicitors have been independently assessed as being experts in children law.

If choosing between firms you should also think about how many Law Society Children Panel Solicitors are in the different family law teams.

If a firm has three or four solicitors who are members of the Law Society Children Panel in their team then this shows that the firm has greater strength in depth in children law and any much bigger commitment to children law than a firm where there may only be one child law solicitor. There may well also be other solicitors/lawyers who work with the children panel members.

Our team includes children panel members: Ian Walker, Kim Stradling, Sandy Powell and Sara Hindle. Our team also includes solicitors who for various reasons are not currently on the panel but have been in the past. This means we have a really strong team of children specialist lawyers.

It is also important that you have a good working relationship with your solicitor and you can get hold of them. Our team are a friendly bunch and getting hold of us isn’t a problem…

To be able to answer this question I would need to know a bit more about what has happened and what is happening with your court case at the moment.

Forced Adoption does take place in England and Wales. When this happens, it is dreadful for a parent and other family members.

If you’re worried that your children could be adopted then you need to take legal advice as soon as possible…

When there are care proceedings brought by social services, the court will wish to end up with a plan which ensures that the children are cared for to a good enough standard throughout the whole of their childhood.

Alternative options are looked at simultaneously in order to save time.

However, the court will first of all want to establish whether or not children can be cared for to a good enough standard by at least one of their parents.

If children cannot be returned their parents then the court will want to understand whether any other family members could be long-term carers. This might include grandparents, older siblings or aunts/uncles. Sometimes very close family friends might also be considered. Anyone wanting to be considered as a carer for children will need to be fully assessed.

If children cannot be placed in their family, then the court will consider alternative options.

For younger children this normally means adoption. The older children adoption is often unrealistic and the long-term plan is usually one of long-term foster care.

The court will only approve a pathway to adoption if nothing else will do as a way of providing satisfactory long-term care for children.

Adoption changes legal relationships. The adopters become the children’s parents. The children’s birth parents become their former parents. The birth parents lose parental responsibility.

When consideration is given to postadoption contact, the contact isn’t about the birth parent (or grandparent) and their relationship with the child.

The court will wish to  ensure that nothing happens which might undermine the security of the adoption. It is highly unlikely that postadoption contact would be ordered against the wishes of the adoptive parents.

Contact between the child and their birth parents can sometimes serve a positive purpose. This is to assist the child in understanding their identity. Such identity contact can be helpful to a child as they grow up. However, in terms of frequency, you are only looking at once or twice a year most.

In most cases when children are adopted the contact will be letterbox contact. This means that the parent sends an annual message to  the children (but may get nothing in return).

Sometimes  if a grandparent has a particularly close relationship with a child and was not possible to put themselves forward as a carer (perhaps for health reasons) there might be a greater level of postadoption contact – but it would be very unlikely that the level of contact would be very much.

So a short answer to the question – if my children are adopted will I be able to see them? Is probably not.

The best way to ensure that you see your children/grandchildren after care proceedings is to work together with social services to ensure that the children are returned home/placed within the family.

The threshold criteria are a legal test.

The threshold criteria test can be found in the children act 1989 at section 31(2)

the test says that;

A court may only make a care or supervision order if it is satisfied that:

  • the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, and
  • the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to:
  • the care given to the child, or likely to be given to it, if a care or supervision order were not made, the care not being such as it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give, or
  • the child being beyond parental control

In any case – only one of the different factors needs to be proven.

The threshold criteria are the gateway to the possibility of a court making a care order or supervision order.

If the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to show that the threshold criteria have been met – the court will then go on to consider the welfare of the child. The judge may then make a care order or supervision order. The judge could also make no order at all or a special guardianship order depending on what the welfare of the child demands.

If there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the threshold criteria have been met – then the court cannot make a care order or supervision order and the proceedings would end.

By the time the case gets to the final hearing the threshold criteria may well have been agreed or there may have be a fact-finding hearing when the court will decide if the test was met. Sometimes the threshold criteria are decided at the final hearing.

At the very beginning of the case the court would consider the interim threshold. This means that for the case to continue and for interim court orders to be made (including interim removal of children from the care of their parents) the court will need to be satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood that the threshold criteria can be proven at a final hearing (or other full hearing).

Our page about expert assessments can be found here

Expert assessments can be very important and it is common for a parent to be asked to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

A psychologist might at an early stage in the case be asked to advise the court about the parents ability to understand what is going on in the proceedings. Such an assessment is very important. The court will wish to ensure that every parent has a fair hearing and understands as well as possible what is going on. If a parent is struggling to understand what is going on then special measures can be put in place.

A psychologist may be asked to advise about a parents behaviour including their capacity to make and sustain changes in their parenting behaviour. Sometimes parents have had difficult life experiences and this will have made it difficult for them to deal with/cope with certain situations. Sometimes the expert report will be able to identify things that can be put in place to help the parent make changes needed to enable their children to be returned to them. This could include counselling or therapy. There are different types of counselling or therapy which work better for some parents and others.

There might also be psychological assessments which look at the needs of the children (which may be special) and seek to understand the ability of the parents to meet those needs.

A psychiatrist would normally be asked to give advice if a parent has been mentally unwell. If a parent has been afflicted by a mental illness it means they have had an illness have been unwell. Illnesses can be treated and parents can recover. The question might therefore be what needs to happen to enable the parents to recover and in what timescale.

These assessments are very important. They will help to inform all the professionals – the court, the social worker and the Children’s Guardian and will assist the judge deciding what should ultimately happen.

The Children’s Guardian is an experienced independent (from social services) social worker who works for Cafcass. Their role in the proceedings is to advise the court (independently from social services) on matters relating to the welfare of the child.

The Children’s Guardian will often have their own solicitor in court. Technically the Guardian’s solicitor is the solicitor for the child. The Children’s Guardian normally gives instructions to the solicitor on behalf of the child. Sometimes older children will disagree with the views of the Children’s Guardian and they if it is assessed that they are mature enough, the child will give instructions to their solicitor and the Children’s Guardian will need to find another solicitor.

Often parents will observe that the Children’s Guardian and social services agree on everything or most things. Over the years we have however seen lots of cases where the Children’s Guardian and social services have taken very different views and have argued against each other in court.

The Children’s Guardian is an important person within the proceedings and the judge will listen very carefully to their views.

The Children’s Guardian is able to routinely inspect the records of social services and if social services have messed things up then they are able to report this back to the court.

For a parent it is a good idea to form a good relationship with the Children’s Guardian as well as the social worker.

Every case is different – so the answer to this question is that you need to get some legal advice from a specialist in child law as soon as possible. You need to explain clearly to your solicitor what has gone wrong and they will be able to give advice as to what you need to do.

When a case is decided – the judge will be interested in evidence. Success is not about saying that you are going to do things. Success involves demonstrating that you have changed things. Evidence is key.

We are experts in children law so give us a call.

When social services bring a case to court there is normally lots of evidence of things having gone wrong with the care of children. This doesn’t mean that a parent will not succeed – but the application to the court may well be a last resort on the part of social services.

But there are cases where social services do get things wrong. Over the years we have had some cases where we have acted for parents where a case has been brought to court without sufficient justification. We have also acted for parents in cases where the parents have not been treated fairly or assessed fairly by the particular social services team.

In some cases the Children’s Guardian may also form the view that social services have got things very wrong and are pursuing the wrong plan.

By the end of the case – the court will normally approve the social services care plan but it will not do so blindly.

These cases are complicated so it is best to seek legal advice from a child law specialist as soon as possible.

The answer to this question is essentially the same as the answers to each of the questions; Do I have to attend meetings with social services? and Can I tell social services to go away?

Those questions are answered above.

There is no law requiring a parent to cooperate with social services. However social services have a legal duty to ensure that children who are living in their area are safe. If a pa We suggest that you get some of vice rent or parents do not cooperate with social services, it will not make social services go away. The concern that social services have will increase and how they deal with the case will likely escalate and there is a good possibility that court proceedings will be commenced.

We would recommend that you get some advice from a solicitor who is expert in children law.

The answer to this question is the same as the previous question.

An adult does not have to speak to social services, but if that adult is a parent and social services have concerns about the welfare of their children, then social services will not go away. There is a much greater likelihood of court proceedings.

It is a good idea to get some legal advice from a solicitor who is expert in children law.

 

Over the years there have been far too many sad cases where children have died at the hands of parents or other adults who have been in a position of trust to the child. In many of these cases a government agency will have been involved with the family if not several. Subsequent Inquiries aimed at learning lessons from these tragic cases have invariably highlighted  a failure in professional agencies to share information.

There exists statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This is called working together to safeguard children. This guidance is updated regularly.

This answer was written in August 2020. At the time the most recent version of Working Together to Safeguard Children was written in 2018. There is a link to the guidance here.

The answer to the question is therefore the police are expected to inform social services of information if they are concerned with the welfare of the child.

If the child is in immediate danger the police can go further. The please can actually remove children from their parents temporarily through what is known as a police protection order. This is a very temporary arrangement and the expectation would be that social services would then apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order or an Interim Care Order within a very short period of time.

The answer to this question can be found in the answer to the question; Can I tell social services to go away?  which is given above.

The best way to get rid of social services is to allow them to go away happy. This means working with social services to resolve their concerns. Remember that social services have a legal duty to make sure that children living in their area are safe. They will not go away unless they are satisfied that there has been a genuine engagement and that problems have been resolved.

The primary purpose of social services is not to take families to court and is not to break up families. The primary purpose of social services is to make sure that children safe and that they are being looked after to a good enough standard. Going to court is very expensive (including for social services). In our experience, social services would much rather resolve cases out of court. This means working together with families to resolve problems.

We suggest that you take some independent legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in children law. Legal aid is available to assist. How the legal aid scheme works depends upon the level of concerns from social services.

All social services departments will have a complaints procedure. This should be published on the website of the local authority in question. If you have difficulty finding the complaints procedure then the local authority switchboard should be able to point you in the right direction.

If your relationship with social services is such that you are thinking of making a complaint, then it would be a good idea to get some legal advice. Simply complaining rather than accepting and addressing problems could be viewed that you are trying to avoid responsibility. A complaint could be counter-productive.

Get some legal advice.

 

All cases are different and what you need to do to win will depend upon the facts in your case.

You need to speak to a solicitor who specialises in children law – ideally a member of the Law Society Children Panel. Please give us a call. We will see if we can help.

The answer to this is the same as the previous question. All cases are different and what needs to be done will depend upon what has happened.

In most cases social services will become involved with the family because something has gone wrong quite badly. The starting point to resolve the problem is to accept there is a problem and to identify what it is. The next stage is to do something about it.

Sadly, some parents leave it too late to be able to realistically get their children back. It is a good idea to get legal advice as soon as possible from a solicitor who specialises in children law – and who is ideally a member of the Law Society Children Panel.

 

A judge will decide cases based upon the evidence before him.

Proving social services wrong means producing evidence which will persuade the judge that social services are wrong.

Social workers are professionals. The judge will normally be more inclined to believe a social worker than a parent if it is one person’s word against another.

the question suggests that there is a real problem and you need to get some legal advice as soon as possible from a solicitor who specialises in children law.

We have answered this question above. All cases are different and what you need to do will depend on what has gone wrong in your case. But in short – you need to speak to an experienced solicitor as soon as possible.

If you are worried about the safety and welfare of a child then you should call social services. Social services are under a legal duty to make sure that the children living in their area are safe and are being looked after to a good enough standard. Sadly there are too many cases in the news where children have suffered significant harm including death because social services have not acted quickly enough or effectively enough.

If social services become involved in a family the starting point will be to try and help the family to put things right. It is only if this cannot happen or is unrealistic that the case will be escalated.

if a child dies there will be an Inquiry to establish what has gone wrong. Invariably these inquiries will say that information has not been shared effectively enough and that opportunities to save the child’s life have been missed.

The point is that there may be lots of small pieces of information held by different people. Individually these concerns may be quite small – but added together, they could point to a very serious problem.

If you have seen something that worries you about the welfare of a child then you should share it. You don’t know what other information social services have and you don’t necessarily know how significant the information that you hold really is.

We suggest that you take some legal advice as soon as possible.

If your ex is not looking after your children properly then you may also want to make an application to the court for a child arrangements order so that they come to live with you.

A court will decide cases on the basis of evidence. If you have not reported a concern to social services and or if you’re not apply to the court promptly because of that concern – then at a later stage the court may wonder whether you were truly concerned (on the basis that you didn’t do anything).

It is the job of social services to make sure that children are safe.

What you shouldn’t do is to make malicious allegations about your ex. If these are investigated and found to have been malicious this will only make relations between you and your ex worse.

Get some legal advice based on what has happened and what is worrying you.

See the answer to the question: Should I call social services?

See the answer to the question: Should I call social services?

All cases are different and you may want to get some advice.

You do not know what other information social services hold on your daughter and her family and it may be that they will intervene anyway. If social services do intervene then if it is assessed that your grandchildren cannot continue to live with your daughter, social services will want to consider whether your grandchildren could live safely with another member of your family including with you.

Part of the assessment of you as a potential carer will focus on your ability to keep your grandchildren safe. It will count against you if it is felt that you have had knowledge and that you could/should have done something to protect your grandchildren but that you failed to do so. Grandparents will be assessed as to their ability to prioritise the needs of their grandchildren over the needs of their adult children. Please bear this in mind.

See the answer to the question: Should I call social services?

See the answer to the question: Should I call social services?

See the answer to the question: Should I report my daughter to social services?

If children cannot live safely with their parents then social services will assess other family members who might be willing to look after the children instead. This includes aunts/uncles. The assessment of an aunt/uncle as potential carer will focus on their ability to prioritise the needs of their nieces/nephews over the needs of their siblings.

getting some legal advice might also be a good idea

It might also be a good idea to get some legal advice

If you are the victim of domestic abuse then you can access lots of different professional help.

You should make contact with the police. You should speak to your social worker if you have one. You may also want to take legal advice with a view to obtaining an injunction order – a non-molestation order or an occupation order (a protective court order).

Sometimes the best option is to make use of the women’s refuge network which will enable you to move to a place of safety. But there are lots of people who want to help you. Your social worker or the police domestic abuse officer are normally a good place to start.

If you are a parent and you are a victim of domestic abuse, then if you minimise the abuse or try to hide it from your social worker you could well place yourself in a situation where your children are removed from your care because of concerns that you cannot keep your children or yourself safe and that you are prioritising your relationship over the safety of your children. Sadly, over the years we have seen too many cases where parents have failed to end an abusive relationship either at all or too late.

Remember abusers always say sorry, and they say sorry again and again and again and again… But they don’t change their behaviour.

See the answer to the question: What are the threshold criteria?

If social services are satisfied that they have evidence that the threshold criteria are met and a parent is not working with social services outside of court to resolve problem so that their children are safe then an application will be made to the court. Sometimes these applications can be made urgently and at very short notice.

When the case gets to court the court will want to establish a holding position so that the children are safe whilst assessments take place.

Every case is different and what will happen will depend upon the facts of the case. This means the seriousness of the harm and the risks to the child. It is therefore difficult to answer this question generally. That you are asking this question suggests that you need to take some legal advice as soon as possible from a solicitor who specialises in children law.

See the answer to the question:  Do police always inform social services?

We have included in the answer a link to the document Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.

When we prepared these answers in August 2020 this was the current statutory guidance setting out how agencies (including the police and social services) should work together to safeguard children.

This means there should be a good exchange of information from the police to social services if the police have concerns over the welfare of a child.

Social services will close their case when they are satisfied that the concerns that cause them to become involved in the first place have been resolved.

You may be asking this question because it seems like social services involvement in your family is never-ending? In which case it would be a good idea to get some legal advice.

If something has happened and social services have got things wrong then it would be a good idea to get some legal advice. The type of social services law that we deal with is to do with the arrangements for and the safety of children. We do not deal with cases where a parent or child sues social services for damages. We do however have an arrangement with another practice who might be able to assist, so please do get in touch.

See the answer to the question: What are the threshold criteria? and When can social services remove a child?

If social services are satisfied that they have evidence that the threshold criteria are met and a parent is not working with social services outside of court to resolve problem so that their children are safe then an application will be made to the court. Sometimes these applications can be made urgently and at very short notice.

That you have asked this question suggests that you are quite worried this could happen.

Every case is different and what will happen will depend upon the facts of the case.

That you are asking this question suggests that you need to take some legal advice as soon as possible from a solicitor who specialises in children law.

Latest News

Why you must engage with the court in children proceedings

When parents separate they will have to sort out arrangements for their children, in particular as to what time the children will spend with each parent. Hopefully, they will be able to do this by agreement. But if they can’t agree matters

Read more
Can I get my spouse to fund my legal expenses?

Family court proceedings can be expensive. That is why every reasonable effort should be made to resolve family disputes out of court. But sometimes this is simply not possible.

Read more
David Howell-Richardson: We are very sad to announce the retirement from legal practice of our friend and colleague.

We are very sorry to announce the retirement of David Howell-Richardson. David joined us as a consultant solicitor in April 2018 after a long legal career in Devon – predominantly with Stones Solicitors in Exeter (who eventually merged wit

Read more
We are recruiting – Family Law Solicitors / Family Law Mediators – Various Options – ££Competitive

Ian Walker founded Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors in 2013. We have grown from being Ian and a computer, into one of the strongest teams of family lawyers in the South West. We are very busy and are recruiting for further lon

Read more
Report proposes new approach to resolving children issues

A new report has been published that proposes a new approach be adopted towards resolving disputes between separated parents over arrangements for their children. The report is by the multi-disciplinary Family Solutions Group (‘FSG’)

Read more
Can I be made to pay for my abusive ex to see the children?

A recent headline in The Guardian newspaper read: Domestic abuse survivors 'having to pay for abusers to see children'. Could it really be true that a court will order that a parent who has been abused by the other parent must pay

Read more
We Are Recruiting – Quality Compliance and Risk Manager

A new opportunity within our team. November and December are important times in our business cycle. Our financial year ends on the 30 November. Our annual Lexcel appraisal/review is at the beginning of December each year.

Read more
Survey highlights differing experiences of remote hearings

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of social distancing measures, the family courts in England and Wales widely adopted the use of remote hearings, via telephone or video.

Read more
Arbitration: Alternative dispute resolution for all

Arbitration is a relatively recent addition to the available ways of resolving family law disputes out of court (collectively known as ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’, or ‘ADR’ for short). It first became available for resolving financial

Read more
Some good news for family court delays

Last week the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane spoke at a conference on the future of family practice online, organised by Resolution, the association of family lawyers. He had some interesting, and perhaps somewhat

Read more
Ten commonly asked questions about divorce

Anyone contemplating divorce will inevitably have a lot of questions to ask. As any experienced family lawyer will confirm, many of those questions crop up over and over again. This post is intended to provide quick answers to some of the m

Read more
Can I take my child to a different part of the country after I separate?

It is not uncommon that, after they separate, parents might want to move to different parts of the country, some considerable distance away from each other. This might, for example, be because the parents originate from different parts

Read more