How long do care proceedings take?
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The law says care proceedings should be completed within 26 weeks. That is 6 months). See section 32 (1) (a) (ii) of the Children Act 1989.
A case management hearing is usually the first court hearing that takes place in care proceedings. The court will not make any final decisions at this hearing. But will:
- Review the application, including the proposed care plan for the child
- Identify the main issues in the case, and
- Set a timetable for the case.
When setting a timetable for the case, the court will note key dates for the child. For example, their birthday, important school dates and any looked after child review meetings or other key meetings with children’s services.
The care proceedings can be extended beyond the 26-week time limit where the court grants permission. The court should only grant permission if the judge thinks that it is necessary to do so in order to deal with the case fairly. An extension can only be for eight weeks. But there can be more than one extension made.
More information about the timetable for care proceedings is included on our Stages of care proceedings page.