If the Local Authority have significant concerns about the safety and welfare of a child, they will initiate Care Proceedings for a Care or Supervision Order for a child.
Care Proceedings initiated by the Local Authority, must conclude within 26 weeks. The law states that an extension beyond 26 weeks can only be authorised if it is necessary to enable the Court to resolve the proceedings justly.
The children’s parents will be required to attend the Court Hearings, along with anyone else who holds Parental Responsibility as they will be a party to the proceedings. The Local Authority will attend the Hearing to set out their case. The children will also be allocated a Children’s Guardian and solicitor who will represent the children’s interests throughout the matter. A Judge will be present at the Hearing to make the decision after reading the evidence and considering the case.
Depending on the application made by the Local Authority and the severity of the concerns raised, the First Hearing may be listed as an Interim Care Order Hearing if the Local Authority are of the view that the children are required to be removed from the parent’s care. At this hearing, the Local Authority will set out the reasons why the matter requires urgent consideration and why they are seeking removal of the child.
After the Local Authority submit an application to the Court, you will be informed of a date for the Hearing and what the Hearing is listed as.
A Case Management Hearing is often the second hearing within proceedings and will set out a timetable for the proceedings. The Court will make directions to obtain evidence to resolve the issues in the case.
A Case Management Hearing will often be a relatively quick hearing to set the standard directions with a view to preparing the case for a final hearing.
An Issues Resolutions Hearing (IRH) is designed to determine if there are any issues that remain outstanding or whether the case can be concluded at this hearing. An Issues Resolutions Hearing may also be referred to as an Early Final Hearing if matters can be agreed between the parties at that stage.
If there remains further issues to be determined, an Issues Resolutions Hearing will identify these issues and narrow the issues which remain to be addressed at a Final Hearing.
If the matter has not been capable of agreement or finalisation, a Final Hearing will be required. If the Final Hearing is contested, the parties and other experts may be required to give oral evidence at the hearing. The Judge will then consider the papers of the case and the evidence given at the hearing before making a final decision in the best interests of the child.
For expert legal advice on all child care matters – including care proceedings – contact Duncan Lewis Children Lawyers on 033 3772 0409 or online below.