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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Case management hearing

The first court hearing after children’s services apply to the court for a care order or supervision order. It should take place between 12 and 18 days after children’s services make the application to court.

If you are a parent of the child, you will be a ‘party’ to the proceedings. You will receive a copy of the court application and supporting documents. This will include the date, time and place of the case management hearing.

At the case management hearing the court will:

  • Review the application, including the proposed care plan for the child.
  • Consider the immediate living arrangements for the child and whether an interim order is necessary. For example, an interim care order or interim supervision order.
  • Make sure a children’s guardian has been allocated to the child.
  • In cases with an international element, consider jurisdiction. This means whether the family court in England and Wales is the right court to make decisions about the child.
  • Identify the key issues the court needs to resolve in order to reach a final decision
  • Consider whether any expert evidence will be needed to help it resolve those issues
  • Set out a timetable for proceedings (with the aim of reaching a final decision within 26 weeks).

The court also is also likely to give directions for the assessment of family members as possible future carers of the child.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Care (and related) proceedings

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