Child Protection Issues

Child Protection Issues

You Do Not Have to Let a Social Worker Into Your Home

You do not have to let a social worker into your home. However, if you refuse then they may seek an order from the Court or they may ask the police to attend.  The police can take a child into police protection if the concerns are sufficient.  This would then lead to the matter being put before the Court and the Local Authority can apply for orders relating to the child.

Family Solicitors in Brighton, Hove, Hassocks & Farnham

Do you need family law advice? Contact GoodLaw Solicitors LLP in Sussex and Surrey.
SUSSEX: 01273 956 270 | SURREY: 01252 471 211

It is Better to Work With Children’s Services

It is better to work with Children’s Services so that you can look at the concerns with them and try to make improvements to avoid any further action being taken.

If you are arrested, this could lead to the police making a referral to Children’s Services to alert them to any child safety issues. We have links to firms that can assist with any criminal proceedings and we can advise you of the impact this could have on the children in your care.

If the Local Authority has concerns about your child, then they may start an investigation and there may then be an initial child protection conference. After a conference takes place the Local Authority may make a plan to keep the child safe. This will detail the concerns and how they can be resolved.

A number of professionals with information about the child will give their views as to whether such a plan is necessary.  You may find that services are offered to support your child and the family as a whole and this can be helpful. Once a plan is in place there will be review conferences every 3 to 6 months. There will also be CORE group meetings the first of which will be within ten days of the conference.  We can assist you with any queries or concerns you may have during this period.

Special Guardianship Orders

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is an order that appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian. An SGO confers parental responsibility on the special guardian. SGO’s have been described as a ‘half-way house’ between child arrangements orders and adoption orders. An SGO is an alternative to adoption in cases where adoption may not be the best solution for a child who cannot live with their birth parents, such as older children in long-term care who might wish to retain some legal ties with their birth families and who don’t want to be adopted. A parent cannot be a special guardian. An SGO confers parental responsibility on the applicant. Parental responsibility can be exercised by a special guardian to the exclusion of any other person with parental responsibility (apart from another special guardian) as long as there is no other court order in place.

The court cannot make an SGO unless it has received a report from the local authority. The applicant must give the local authority three months’ notice in writing of their intention to apply for an SGO and, once the report has been received, the application can be made to court.

An SGO will continue until the child reaches 18 unless discharged sooner. An SGO may be varied or discharged by the court on an application made by either parent although they are extremely hard applications which invariably fail. The parents would need to demonstrate a prolonged change in circumstance as well as that it would be in the child’s best interests for an SGO to be discharged, which can be very difficult to demonstrate.

We frequently advise and assist kinship carers who are already caring for children of their family or family members seeking to care for a child within court proceedings where there has been either a positive or negative viability assessment.

Child Arrangement Orders

When a relationship ends, one of the most important issues for couples is to agree on the arrangements for children going forward. This can often be difficult and you and your ex-partner may have conflicting views over what is best for your child. It is important to try and keep matters as amicable as possible, but we understand that this is not always possible and sometimes legal intervention is required to put an arrangement in place which is best for your child. At GoodLaw, we are committed to providing you with child-focused advice on any issues which may arise.

One of the most common issues which arise is the arrangements for children and where your child should live and how much time they should spend with each parent. If you and your ex-partner cannot agree, you may wish to attend mediation. This is where you sit down with an independent third party to try and reach an agreement. At GoodLaw, we offer mediation for both children and financial matters. There is a requirement to attend mediation before a court application can be made and therefore it is worth attempting mediation as a starting point. If an agreement cannot be reached at mediation, the mediator will sign an exemption form for you which allows you to apply to the court within four months.

It is also possible to reach an agreement through correspondence and you may wish for us to write to your ex-partner on your behalf to put an agreement in place regarding contact arrangements. Sometimes it can be helpful for a parenting plan to be put in place and we would recommend looking at the CAFCASS website for further information:

Applying to the court should always be a last resort, but it is sometimes necessary. When considering an application for a Child Arrangements Order, the court’s paramount concern is the welfare of the child and what is in their best interests. If you are considering making an application to the court, we can help and advise you at every stage. You may require full representation throughout the court proceedings or you may just require assistance and advice on certain issues. Either way, we are here to help and we can provide as little or as much assistance as is required.

There may also be a specific issue which arises that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on. This may be for example what school your child should attend, whether they should have vaccinations or if they should go on holiday. If an agreement cannot be reached between you or at mediation, you would need to apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order and ask the court to make a determination for you. In considering the application, the court will apply the welfare principle and what is in the child’s best interests. If you are unsure about making a court application, our family lawyers can advise you as to whether it is necessary to apply to the court and what you should apply for.

Our Family Law Team

Resolution Members & Law Society Accredited

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