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29 Care Proceedings

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1 Introduction

2. Who can make decisions about my child's care?

3. Why would social services get involved in my child's care?

4. What happens when social services start care proceedings?

5. What happens at the first hearing?

6. What orders can the court make at the first hearing?

7. Who will represent my child during proceedings?

The court appoints an independent person, called a guardian, to give information and an opinion about what is best for your child. This person is from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). The guardian does not work for the social services department applying for the court order – they work for the court and represent your child in the case. Their job is to find out what social services have done to help you and why they are worried about your child. The guardian will talk to your child about the situation (if he or she is old enough), and what he or she would like to happen. The guardian will also read social services’ files on the case.

The guardian will want to see you to find out what has happened. It is important to talk to your solicitor before you do this. You may want to make a list of all the important things you want to say. You may also want to ask a family member or friend to be with you at the meetings for support. You can also ask the guardian to talk to other people who know you and your child. 

The guardian must prepare a written report for the court. Your solicitor should receive a copy of this report at least 14 days before the final hearing. The court will normally follow the recommendations in the guardian’s report. If the court does not follow the guardian’s recommendations, it should explain why.

Either the court will appoint a solicitor to represent your child in the proceedings or the guardian will choose one. The solicitor’s job is to ensure that your child’s views are presented to the court.

If your child is very young, the solicitor will talk to him or her but will also work closely with the guardian to make sure they know what your child wants and how this should be presented to the court. However, if your child is old enough to understand what is happening, the solicitor should take instructions directly from him or her, and present these to the court, even if the guardian doesn’t agree with them.

8. What happens after an interim order is made?

9. How do I prepare for the final hearing?

10. What happens at the final hearing?

11. How does the court make its decision?

12. What types of order can the court make?

13. How long does a care order last?

14. How can I apply to end a care order?

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

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