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Child care proceedings - Family law

Head of Stephensons family team Mike Devlin and specialist solicitor Jackie Price talk about our experience representing parents, children and other family members on issues relating to children.

No matter how difficult or complicated the circumstances, Stephensons’ experienced child care lawyers are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you and your family.

If you would like to speak to a legal specialist in relation to child care proceedings call us on 01616 966 229.

Child care proceedings Family law - video transcript

Mike Devlin: We have a family department here, which deals with every aspect of family law, relationship breakdown. We have a very specialist department, which deals with cases involving children, particularly those children who have been abused or neglected by their parents or are alleged to have been abused or neglected.

We represent the parents, children, and other family members. We also represent parents and children in cases where there are disputes between parents themselves as well as cases where there are disputes between local authorities and other family members.

Jackie Price: I've got cases where children have unexplained injuries. I've got cases where children are beyond parental control. We have neglect cases and sometimes care proceedings can be issued due to children being overweight, underweight, or for unexplained medical reasons.

You just never know when the local authorities are going to make that decision to intervene in your life. From the outset, we will meet with you and we will be there for you every step of the way with a strategy to make sure that we can assist you through these proceedings. We can carry that burden with you and help you achieve what you want to achieve.

Mike: Because of the nature of the work that we do, I believe that not only do we have an empathy for our clients and an understanding of the dilemmas that they're faced with, but we have a passion for achieving the right results for them and for their children.

Jackie: We would always urge you to contact us as soon as possible because if the local authority indicate that they want to be involved in your life, they no doubt will take steps to do so. We do find that if we assist at a very early stage, we can sometimes prevent proceedings being issued by giving you the right advice at the right stage.

Sometimes people need assistance in seeking therapeutic help for themselves and addressing issues that are there. If we do provide people with that assistance from an early stage, we do tend to find that we can set them off in the right track and we can make a big difference as to what the ultimate outcome of proceedings may be.

Mike: It is a specialist area. In fact, the legal profession has developed accreditations for people specialising in this aspect of family law. People have to study. They have to have relevant experience and they're tested by our professional body before they can be accredited to represent either parents or children or indeed local authorities.

Jackie: I would say you don't need to worry about coming and seeing a solicitor. I think your biggest worry is not coming and seeing a solicitor at the outset of proceedings. Statute now determines that care proceedings must be concluded within 26 weeks. It is only in very exceptional circumstances that that time scale will change. It's not a guide. It's an absolute maximum and that is the approach the courts are taking.

Now that time starts when proceedings are issued and it goes very, very fast. The number of clients who come to me when we're approaching final stages who say, "I can't believe how quickly time has gone past," is unbelievable. It just compounds the need to do something quickly. If you are going to have therapy, if you have got issues that need to be addressed, if you are going to abstain from drugs, if you are going to seek help in respect to domestic abuse, you need to do it immediately. You need to have shown change.

If you're going to wait until week 20 to start changing or to get advice, it's very, very late in the day and you're going to be in extreme difficulties. I think the message that I would like to give is that you don't need to worry about seeing a solicitor at all. Your greatest worry is finding yourself in a situation where you've tried to do it alone without a solicitor.