Care of Children (Childcare)
At Eric Robinson Solicitors, our specialist Childcare lawyers will advise and support you during the difficult and emotional times that arise when a Local Authority looks to intervene in respect of the provision of care for a child or children.
Decisions about the care of children can often leave families feeling frustrated. It may feel as though you don’t have any say in what happens. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Our experience in cases like this means we can help family members get their voice heard, whether it’s to challenge a care decision, explain a change in circumstances, or put other family members forward as prospective carers.
In some child arrangement cases the court will direct that children should be represented separately from their parents, and we’re often instructed to act on behalf of the children in court proceedings. We also advise and represent people who are looking to adopt children.
The majority of our specialist childcare work is funded by Legal Aid.
Legal Aid and Funding
A parent or someone with Parental Responsibility will automatically qualify for Legal Aid if proceedings have been issued or if the local authority has sent out a Public Law Outline letter (PLO) confirming its intention to issue proceedings. In all other cases (including where a person is not a parent and doesn’t have Parental Responsibility) there will be a means and merit test to check if legal aid ought to apply.
If a Local Authority Children’s’ Services Department issues a PLO letter or makes an application to court for care proceedings, a parent or person with Parental Responsibility is entitled automatically to Legal Aid regardless of their means.
Representation at child protection meetings is means tested for Legal Aid, unless the client receives certain specific state benefits. If a person does not qualify for Legal Aid, private arrangements will need to be made for us to represent you at child protection meetings unless the local authority has issued a PLO letter.
Grandparents and other family members are not automatically entitled to Legal Aid unless they have Parental Responsibility for the child or children. Grandparents or other family members who want to be legally represented will have to go through a means tested Legal Aid application unless they are eligible because they receive certain specific state benefits. If a person does not qualify for Legal Aid, private arrangements will need to be made for representation. Sometimes a local authority may be willing to contribute towards those fees. Such arrangements may be available where the local authority is supporting the grandparents or other family members in obtaining a Special Guardianship Order in care proceedings.
Our Childcare team can give you specialist advice and represent you when social services are involved with your family.
If social services have decided to assess your family or decided to convene a child protection case conference, talk to us. We’ll be able to give you the best advice and explain the procedures so that you know how to prepare and what to expect.
Representing Other Family Members
If social services have become involved with your grandchildren or other close family members, you will not have an automatic right to receive information about what is happening. That’s because you do not hold Parental Responsibility for the children involved. However many children who are involved in court proceedings are placed in the care of members of the extended family and these family members then have a big role to play in the children’s future.
We can advise you on your rights in relation to the child and on the social services procedures. We’ll tell you if you are able to make any applications to the court for residence, contact, special guardianship or an adoption. And we’ll help you take the right steps to protect the child’s interests.
Our specialist childcare lawyers advise children and young people and represent them in court.
This takes sensitivity, empathy and experience. And these qualities enable us to fully understand every child’s situation and deliver the right result, in the right way, for them.
If you are looking to adopt a child, our specialist team can help you through the legal process with sensitivity, confidentiality and expertise.
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