In care proceedings it is most often the case that the parties involved are a small circle consisting of the local authority, the parents, and the children through their representative, the children's guardian, a professional appointed by the court as an independent voice of the children.
However, there are also occasions where other parties become involved including extended family members, friends, nursery staff, child-minders or anybody who has come into contact with a child during a certain time period. This situation often arises when a child has suffered an injury which has been described as ‘non-accidental’ by medical professionals such as a fracture or a brain injury.
This group of people is referred to as the ‘pool of potential perpetrators’ and potentially the court can make findings against them that they have caused the injuries. They can be added to the court proceedings as ‘interveners’ to allow them access to papers within the proceedings and to enable them to present their position to the court regarding their care or involvement with the subject child or children.
This involvement can cause a significant impact on the lives of those within the “pool”. Social services may become involved with their own children. In the case of a child-minder it is often the case that they are temporarily suspended from caring for children until the investigations in the family court are concluded which can have financial implications and cause damage to reputation. Interveners will usually be required to attend court, often giving evidence to enable the court to make a decision as to who has caused the injuries to the child.
In public law care proceedings legal aid is automatically available for biological parents of the children involved. Legal aid may be available to interveners joined to the proceedings such as relatives or family friends but is not automatically available and will depend on an individual’s income and means.
If you are a relative, family friend, or professional who is involved in care proceedings concerning a child, Stephensons has unrivalled experience dealing with some of the most challenging cases. We are able to review the medical evidence and in some cases this has resulted in the case being withdrawn. It is important that you contact us at the earliest opportunity so that we can help you
If you need to speak to a solicitor, call our family law team today on 0175 321 6399.