Care orders - child care proceedings

A care order is an order which places a child under the protection of social services. It gives the local authority parental responsibility and the power to remove a child into foster care. A care order will remain in force until the child reaches the age of 18 or earlier order of the court.

The social services department of your local authority must apply to the court for a care order. If successful, the local authority will share parental responsibility for the child with the parents.They will also play a major role in decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing, such as where they live and where they go to school.

A court can only grant a care order if they believe that:

  1. The child is suffering harm, or is at risk of suffering harm in the future; and
  2. The harm is being caused by the child’s parents, or
  3. The parents are unable to protect the child from harm as they are unable to control the child.

It is possible for parents or other family members to challenge the making of a care order.

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Legal aid

If you are the parent or a person with parental responsibility for a child subject to care proceedings, you will be entitled to legal aid.

If you are a grandparent or other family member, you may be able to apply for care of the child, either temporarily or permanently. The local authority is under a duty to consider whether other family members or relatives would be willing to look after the child and if this is a viable alternative to foster care or adoption.

If you want to prevent or challenge the making of a care order, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Please call us on 0203 816 0548 if you would like a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors. 

Stephensons’ family law team has a strong reputation for achieving positive outcomes for its clients. The department was voted the Family Law Firm of the Year in 2014 and is accredited in the Legal 500 and the Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession as ‘leaders in the field of child care’.

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