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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?

8. What happens after an interim order is made?

There will be a series of interim hearings, where the court will continue to look at:

  • where your child will live;
  • who he or she will see; and
  • how the case will proceed.

At these hearings the court will consider whether or not orders and directions already made should be renewed or changed.

You should keep in close touch with your solicitor about what is likely to happen at the interim hearings. If you think the current arrangements are wrong for your child, you should discuss with your solicitor whether or not to ask the court at an interim hearing to reconsider, for example the arrangements for your child to see members of the family.

The court will also hold a meeting called a Case Management Conference. This the main meeting to decide what evidence it will need for the final hearing, and here it will make directions about, among other things:

  • what statements, reports and assessments it needs, and who should prepare them – this may include social workers or family centre workers, teachers and other school staff, doctors, health visitors and any other professionals working with the child or your family;
  • when these should be filed (given to the court), so that there is enough time for everyone involved to respond to them before the final hearing;
  • which experts can see the child (if any are needed) and when their reports must be filed at court;
  • whether the case should be transferred to a higher court; and
  • any other procedures that need to be followed before the final hearing.

If you think any family members would be willing to care for your child, you should discuss this with them, and give their names to your solicitor. It is important that you do this as soon as possible, because they will need to be assessed by social services, and this assessment must be completed for the final hearing.

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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