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What happens in care proceedings?

When children’s services apply to start care proceedings they are asking the Family Court to:

  • Consider a plan to keep a child safe and well cared for immediately – this could include a plan to remove the child
  • Make any court orders needed to help put that initial plan in place
  • Decide who the child should spend time with or be in touch with during the proceedings. This includes who the child should see, how often and other such arrangements. This is often referred to as contact arrangements.
  • Decide what further information is needed to help the court make final decisions about the child’s future care
  • Make final decisions, at the end of the proceedings, about who the child should live with and stay in touch with.

But children’s services should:

  • Support parents and families to resolve concerns before care proceedings are started
  • Where this is not possible, they should explore who within the family and friends’ network may be able to care for the child
  • If care proceedings are started, the court should have evidence (information) about all of the possible long-term care options for the child.

Any parent or carer who is told, or thinks, care proceedings are about to be started:

  • Should get urgent legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in children law.  Or who has Children Law Accreditation.  To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website.  See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding  a solicitor
  • Can post a question for one of our expert advisers on our Advice Forums, and if needing further or more detailed advice
  • Contacts us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays).

See our Children’s services page for helpful information about how children’s services should work with children and families. And see our Care (and related) proceedings page for more information about the stages or care proceedings, who should be involved and how the Family Court will make decisions.

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