Local authorities have a duty to provide advice, assistance and services to families and children, and to investigate where there is a concern regarding possible harm to a child and to take steps in an emergency to remove children to accommodation provided by the local authority.
Longer term arrangements for the protection of vulnerable children permits the court to make a care or supervision order where a child is at risk of suffering significant harm, attributable to parenting, or lack of parenting that they are receiving, or because they are beyond parental control. The effect of a care order, is to permit the local authority to share Parental Responsibility for the child or children with others, usually the parents. Court applications for care orders usually take up to six months to conclude, while parenting and other assessments are carried out.
The Role of the Children’s Guardian
If a child has sufficient understanding to do so, they may give their own instructions to a solicitor who will then put forward their point of view to the court. If however they are too young, or lack maturity, then their interests will be safeguarded by a Children’s Guardian, an experienced professional appointed by the court who will scrutinise the parties’ positions and make their own recommendations to the court on behalf of the child or children. The Children’s Guardian will always meet the child or children, listen carefully to what they have to say, and take their views into account when formulating a position.
The Outcome of the Proceedings
Often parents affected by these cases are prompted and supported to make necessary changes which benefit themselves and their children for the long term. The court will only sanction long term separation of a child from their family as a last resort.
To contact our family law solicitors, please phone our office on 0207 281 1001. You can also email us at email@example.com.