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Children & Child Custody

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Local authority concerns

Local authority concerns

If your local authority has serious concerns over the welfare of your child you will need child law advice Guildford as a matter of urgency. We can help you through the minefield of any child law issues you are currently experiencing and are best placed to help you and your family receive the best advice and support available to you.

If your local authority has serious concerns about either the safety or welfare of your child, they are able to apply to the courts for permission to take certain actions to protect the child. These will be called ‘supervision’ or ‘care’ proceedings. In some cases the concern will be enough that they will seek permission to place a child for adoption, these are called ‘placement’ proceedings. It is important to remember though that children are only taken into care where there is either: a genuine concern for their safety, a concern that they may come to harm when under the care of their parents or carers, or where a child cannot be controlled by the parent and has become a danger. Removing a child from the family home is not a decision taken lightly by the courts.

Some of the types of things likely to cause a concern to the local authority are:
Neglect. This in itself covers a whole range of things, but essentially means an ongoing serious failure to meet the child’s basic needs. These will include - Not feeding a child adequately or providing enough to drink, keeping them from school thus depriving them of an education, not allowing them to visit a doctor when they need to, not being kept clean either personally or their clothing/belongings etc.
Abuse. There are three areas of abuse - sexual, emotional and physical. Sexual is where the child is forced or encouraged to take part in any kind of sexual activity – this can be anything from sexual touching (clothed or unclothed) through to penetration. Emotional abuse is also referred to as 'psychological abuse' and this involves deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child over a period of time. It can also involve isolating or ignoring the child, or also by ‘putting them down’ repeatedly and not listening to their views. It also encompasses making a child feel unloved and unvalued too. Witnessing domestic violence also falls under the catagory of emotional abuse. A lot of children that suffer from this type of abuse are also suffering from a different type of abuse or neglect at the same time – but not in every case. Physical abuse is where a child is deliberately hurt and causes injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones, cuts etc. The child will have been a victim of violence through being hit, punched, kicked, shaken, burned, slapped or even poisoned. Some parents have unrealistic expectations of their child, or do not understand their needs and this can be how these behaviours manifest themselves.

If the local authority complete an investigation and take your case to court you will need a solicitor that can help you. Here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors we are fully up to date with all the latest child law advice Guildford requirements and will able to advise you accordingly on your individual case.

At the very start of any proceedings the local authority will usually ask the court to make a temporary court order, called an ‘interim care order’   This is where the child is temporarily put under the care, or supervision, of the local authority whilst the proceedings are ongoing. An interim care order will be granted if the court agree the child is suffering, or likely to suffer from significant harm if they remain in the family home whilst the proceedings are ongoing.  This type of care order can last up to 8 weeks on the first occasion, but can be extended for periods of up to 28 days at a time. There is no limit to how many of these orders can be made. If an interim care order is granted by the courts then the local authority will take over parental responsibility for the child whilst the care order is in place.

It can take up to 26 weeks for the court to make a decision on your case. During this time many people will become involved in providing information/evidence to enable the courts to make a decision. These will include a social worker and an officer from CAFCASS (The children and family court advisory and support service). They will speak to people and carry out assessments with people like your child’s health workers, doctors, teachers to name a few. They will be looking at why the child may be at risk and also what can be put in place to keep them safe.  They will also talk to the child’s parents and also to the child themselves. The social worker and the CAFCASS representative will both write independent reports for the courts on their findings. These will outline what they feel is in the child’s best interests and whether they feel, after their investigations, the child should be returned to the family (if they have been placed in care) or whether they should be placed in care. These reports will be presented to the court for their perusal.

It is then up to the court, once they have looked at the evidence provided by both the local authority and yourselves, to make a decision. The judge will listen to everyone involved in the case including the parents, their solicitor, the social worker etc. before coming to a decision. This will then usually be one of the following:
The child may return home if the issues around the safety of the children and the quality of care/parenting has improved.
The child may be removed from the family home and placed with relatives i.e. the grandparents, older siblings or aunts/uncles.
The child may be removed and placed in a foster home.
The child may be adopted.

The child, the parent, the local authority or any other person with parental responsibility can make an application to discharge the care order IF they can prove that a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the care order was granted.   As expert child law advice Guildford solicitors we can help you with all aspects of a local authority case, to enable you to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

For any information on any of your child law advice Guildford questions and queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we will help you through your unique situation. We will always treat you as an individual and make sure that any decisions you make are in the best interests of you and your family. 

Call us today on 01483 826470 and let us help you through the process.

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