public children law

Family Law Solicitors Chester - Divorce

Nelson Mandela once profoundly stated, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” This sentiment is at the heart of our approach to family law in Chester, especially when it involves children.

Understanding Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility, as defined in s 3(1) of the Children Act 1989, encompasses all legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority a parent has concerning their child and the child’s property. Essentially, it grants the power to make significant decisions about the child’s welfare.

Court and Care Proceedings

When a child is believed to be suffering or at risk of significant harm, the Local Authority may initiate Care Proceedings by applying to the court. This application must meet the ‘threshold criteria’ outlined in s31(2) of the Children Act 1989, proving the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm due to inadequate care or being beyond parental control.

The Process of Application and Court Hearings

Upon the Local Authority’s application, the court schedules a Case Management Hearing, a crucial initial step in the proceedings. Throughout these proceedings, various assessments and plans are presented to the court, culminating in a final hearing. The Public Law Outline (2014) and the Children and Families Act 2014 mandate a 26-week limit for completing care proceedings.

Types of Orders

  1. Interim Care Order: Under s38(2) of the Children Act 1989, the court may place the child temporarily under the Local Authority’s care during ongoing proceedings if it believes the threshold criteria are met.
  2. Care Order: This order places the child under the Local Authority’s care, making them a ‘Looked After Child’. It is issued when the court is convinced of the child’s suffering or potential suffering due to inadequate care or lack of parental control.
  3. Supervision Order: Under Section 31 (2) of the Children Act 1989, this order allows the Local Authority to advise, assist, and befriend the child, maintaining a reasonable level of control without assuming full parental responsibility.

Why Do Local Authorities Seek Orders?

Local Authorities pursue these orders to share parental responsibility and make day-to-day decisions for the child’s welfare.

Seeking Legal Advice

It’s crucial to seek immediate legal advice if the Local Authority seeks an interim care order, care order, or supervision order regarding your child. This advice is vital whether the child remains in your care or is removed.

Legal Aid and Support at Berksons

At Berksons, we specialize in Public Law and offer empathetic, expert legal advice and support for court proceedings. You are entitled to Legal Aid in Care Proceedings, providing free advice and representation. Our team in family law in Chester is committed to handling your case with trust and expertise.