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Interim care order

This is a short-term court order which means that a child becomes looked after in the care system.

An interim care order is often made at the start of care proceedings. It will usually last until the court is able to make a final decision. It can be ended before then if the court decides that the order is no longer necessary.

A court will only make an interim care order if it has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. This harm must be due to the care being provided to the child by his parents, or because the child is beyond parental control. This is a lower test than that at a final hearing.

Case law (principles based on earlier relevant court judgments) has established two clear principles in relation to interim care orders:

  • The court’s decision must be limited to issues that cannot wait until the final hearing.
  • A child’s removal from the family home can only be ordered if it is necessary to ensure the child’s immediate protection.

In all cases, the court must also be satisfied that the making of an interim care order is in the child’s best interests.

While it lasts, an interim care order has the same effect as a final care order. Children’s services have the same responsibilities towards all looked after children (whether an interim or final care order is in place). A care plan must be drawn up for the child. An independent reviewing officer must be appointed before the first review of the care plan.

When an interim care order is in place, children’s services share parental responsibility with the parents. Children’s services must ask the parents for their views and wishes about any decision concerning their child. However, children’s services have the final say. They can make plans for the child even if the parents do not agree.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Care (and related) proceedings

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