Expert Care Proceedings Solicitors
Ridley & Hall’s Child Care & Adoption Team has many years of experience, along with a local and national reputation for its work in the complex field of child care law.
Our experienced child care lawyers understand that when social services become involved with your family, it can be a scary, confusing, and overwhelming time. Our specialist team will guide you through the process, providing advice, assistance, and explanations along the way. We will listen to your concerns and utilise our knowledge and experience to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved for you and your children.
Local Authority - Care Orders and sharing Parental Responsibility
An Interim Care Order or final Care Order grants the Local Authority Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child or children. The PR is shared with a parent, rather than removing it entirely, however the Local Authority will have the ability to make day to day decisions for the children. A final Care Order will remain in place until a child’s 18th birthday, unless an application is successfully made to the court to discharge the order. Our team of care proceedings solicitors are equipped to provide the necessary assistance in such matters.
What is the difference between an Interim Care Order and a Care Order?
The only difference is that Interim Care Orders (ICOs) are made to cover the proceedings whereas a care order is a final order made at the conclusion of the case.
A Care Order gives the Local Authority Parental Responsibility (PR) for your child. This means the Local Authority shares PR with you and that they can make decisions on behalf of your child and if necessary, gives them the power to override your wishes if there is a disagreement.
What happens if there is a dispute between the local authority and a parent?
Although the parents continue to have PR the LA’s PR takes precedence over the parents if there is a dispute.
In such circumstances the LA must still liaise and consult the parents.
The parents can, if appropriate, make an application to the court to determine a specific issue such as schooling or medical treatment if the LA is using their PR unreasonably.
Can a Care Order be revoked?
A parent can make an application to discharge a Care Order, but they will need to demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances from when the original care order was made.
What is a Supervision Order?
An Interim Supervision Order (ISO) is made during the course of care proceedings. A Supervision Order is a final order at the completion of proceedings.
An Interim Supervision Order is an order placing a statutory duty on the Local Authority (LA) to advise and assist the parent or primary carer. It does not give the LA parental responsibility.
A Supervision Order cannot last for longer than three years from the initial Interim Supervision Order. Provided it is within the maximum three-year period, a Supervision Order can be made from a few months up to the maximum of three years.
What is a Special Guardianship Order?
Special guardianship is when you take on the responsibility of caring for a child until they reach 18 years of age. This grants you Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child, which is above and beyond that of the parents. Essentially, you have 51% PR, while the parents retain 49%. This is different from a Child Arrangement Order, which allows the carer to share PR with the parents, often in a 50:50% arrangement.
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) still grants the child’s parents some legal status and allows them to maintain a connection with the child.
A Special Guardianship Order is typically most appropriate when the parents have significant problems of their own and are unlikely to agree with decisions regarding the upbringing of the child, and when it is improbable that the child will be returned to the care of the parents.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Child Arrangement Order is an order which states where a child should live (it has historically been referred to as custody/residence) and what time they should spend with the other parent (contact).
Any person can apply for an SGO as long as they are not the parent to the child. i.e:
- Any guardian of the child
- A local authority foster carer with whom the child has lived for at least one year immediately preceding the application
- Anyone who holds a Child Arrangement Order as a person with whom the child shall live
- Anyone with whom the child has lived with for at least three years
- Where the child is in the care of a local authority, any person who has the consent of the local authority
- Anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child
- A relative with whom the child has resided with for over a year
- Any person who has the leave of the court to apply.
Whilst you have PR over and above that of the parents, you cannot: –
- Change the child’s name
- Remove them from the country for more than 3 months
- Agree for the child to be adopted
This is an order authorising a local authority to place a child for adoption. This order can be made where there is no parental consent, or where the Court has ordered the consent should be dispensed with.
Consent cannot be given by a mother who has just given birth until after the first 6 weeks have passed. In circumstances when the child is younger than 6 weeks old then the child will be placed with an adoption agency who will then seek the mother’s consent or apply for a Placement Order after the first 6 weeks from birth.
- If the parent refuses to give consent or the parent or guardian cannot not be found, or they are incapable of giving their agreement, e.g. because they are mentally ill.
- Then if the court is satisfied that the welfare of the child requires it then their consent be dispensed with.
However, the court needs to be satisfied that efforts have been made to inform the parents or other individuals with PR that an application for a Placement Order has been made prior to making the order.
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is an order giving a local authority PR for a short-term period in order to safeguard the welfare of the child.
To make an EPO the court needs to be satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if:
- He/she is not placed into accommodation provided by the local authority or
- He/she does not remain in the current safe place where he/she is currently being accommodated e.g. in hospital.
As an EPO is only a short term order the court can only grant it for up to a maximum of 8 days. It can, however, be extended for a further 7 days thereafter.