How to contact us for advice

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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). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. 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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Party to proceedings

A ‘party’ to court proceedings is a person or organisation who is subject to litigation. This means that they are centrally involved in the case. A witness is not a party, for example.

In care proceedings, the following people or organisations will be parties from the outset:

The party who brings the case to court is the applicant. In, this is children’s services (the local authority). The other parties are known as respondents.

Other family members are not a party automatically (unless they have parental responsibility for the child). They can seek permission from the court to become a party.

In family court proceedings, only someone who is a party is able to go into the courtroom and hear the evidence, submissions and judgments made. Unlike other courts, members of the public cannot go into the family court, as proceedings are private. A party to the case will receive copies of all paperwork submitted during the proceedings. This will include reports to the court or the child’s care plan. Information can only be withheld from a party if the court believes telling that person something could put someone else at risk. If this is the case, the court may make an order to ensure certain documents are not disclosed to that party.

Anyone who is thinking of applying to become a party to proceedings should get advice from a solicitor (preferably one who has children law accreditation) or refer to the Family Rights Group Advice Service.

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