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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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An adoption order: what happens during court proceedings?

Who will be involved in the adoption order proceedings?

When prospective adopters apply to adopt a child, the following people will be involved in the case. They are referred to as the parties to proceedings:

  • The prospective adopters will be the applicants;
  • Children’s services. They will be required to prepare a report for the court about the suitability of the prospective adopters to adopt the child;
  • The parents;
  • Any person with a contact order for the child will be a party to the proceedings. Otherwise, people from the family and friends’ network will not be involved in the adoption order proceedings. If, for example, a relative wants to keep in touch with the child after adoption, they will need to apply for permission from the court to make an application for contact.

Is the child involved in the court proceedings?

Children will not automatically be a party to adoption order proceedings. Exceptions to this are where the child does not agree to the adoption order being made. Or where the Cafcass officer thinks that it would be better for the child to be involved. If a parent has been given permission to oppose the making of an adoption order, the child will be made a party to the proceedings.

What documents will parents receive from the adoption order proceedings?

All parties receive copies of the adoption application and supporting documents. Some names and addresses of the prospective adopters and their family may be removed from the papers. This is to keep the details of the prospective adopters confidential.

What role will the parents play in the court hearing?

The parents will be told the date of the hearing. They have the right to be present. But where parents have either previously agreed to the child being placed for adoption, or a placement order was made, they do not have the right to argue against the adoption order being made. The Family Court needs to give the parents specific permission before they can challenge the making of an adoption order. For information about this see our advice sheet on Challenging adoption orders.

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