Reports have surfaced today that a ‘celebrity mother’ - who cannot be named for legal reasons - has had two of her children removed and placed into foster care.
Although her identity remains confidential, it is understood that the mother is a regular on television.
It is reported that a member of the public witnessed the mother ‘pulling on her son’s hair’ and contacted social services. An investigation then seemingly uncovered other problems, which led to the children being removed from the mother and placed with a nearby foster family.
The mother, it is alleged, was ‘neglecting the youngsters while pursuing her glitzy lifestyle’ and left the children to ‘fend for themselves’.
If a child is at risk of harm social services can intervene in different ways. They can work with a family to try to resolve the issues in different ways (under a ‘child protection plan’ or by way of a process known as the ‘pre-proceedings process’). If the issues cannot be addressed or are urgent the local authority may issue an application for a care order or in an emergency an emergency protection order and the court will ultimately make the decision as to whether to approve a plan of removal of a child from the parents’ care.
Legal aid eligibility
Legal aid is available for the biological parents or any person with parental responsibility of a child or children, where the local authority have indicated that they are considering issuing court proceedings.
Unlike some areas of family law, legal aid for care proceedings is not means or merits tested. ‘Means’ relates to a person’s financial situation; ‘merits’ is the strength of the case. This means that, if a local authority are considering removing a person’s child from their care and/or issuing court proceedings, a person from the list above is eligible for legal aid and will not have to pay, whatever their income. Therefore, legal aid is available for even the rich and famous celebrities, should they wish to access it.
It is not yet known if more information will become available surrounding this case. Proceedings of this nature are confidential unless the court directs otherwise.
How Stephensons can help
Stephensons’ website has information on child care proceedings including a number of columns and guides, such as when the local authority can intervene, what happens during the 26-week timetable, and parents’ rights within the proceedings.
If you are involved with the local authority and there is the possibility that care proceedings may be issued, Stephensons has unrivalled experience dealing with some of the most challenging cases involving social services intervention to removal of children including cases involving allegations of serious injuries and child neglect. If you need to speak to a solicitor about social services involvement or care proceedings, call our family law team today on 01616 966 229.
By Victoria Gethin and Megan Ryan-Loughran in the family law department