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If social services have concerns about the welfare of your child, they may begin court proceedings which can result in your child being removed from your care.

In this highly upsetting and stressful time, the stakes could not be higher.

Our compassionate Belfast-based solicitors are experts in this complex area of law and are here to listen to your concerns and guide you through the process. We will robustly fight for your rights every step of the way.

Why Keenan Solicitors?

If social services have become involved with your family, we understand that this can often be a very stressful and upsetting time for you and your family.

Social services can bring court proceedings in the name of the local Trust if they feel that your child is not safe or being well looked after. These are known as ‘Care Proceedings’. The reasons for social services becoming involved can range from suspicions of abuse to tip-offs from concerned parties about the child’s treatment. They have a duty to investigate every case thoroughly, even when a complaint has no basis.

If a care order is granted, the child will be placed under the care of the local authority and the local authority is given parental responsibility for your child.

The process can be long and complicated, and it is vitally important for you and your child’s future that you instruct legal experts who can fight your corner and guide you through the process.

Our Belfast-based solicitors are experts in care proceedings cases who combine empathy with expertise, taking the time to listen to your worries and concerns to offer advice tailored to your own unique circumstance to achieve the best possible result.

Both of our expert family law solicitors, Caroline McCammon and Andrew Mairs, are proud to sit on the prestigious Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Children Order Panel, recognising their expertise in this specialised area of law.

Call Keenan Solicitors on 028 90 49 3349 or tell us about it and we will call you at a time that suits you.

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What are care proceedings?

Social services may be threatening to take your child off you. They do so through the process of care proceedings.

If social services have become involved with your family, they are concerned about the welfare of your child. Usually this will be because a school or nursery, healthcare professional, family member, neighbour or somebody else has raised concerns that have led to an investigation. Social services will investigate areas of concern such as:

  • Abuse: A child is suffering the effects of physical, emotional, sexual or substance abuse.
  • Neglect: A child’s medical, emotional or basic human needs are not being met.
  • Illness: Parents or guardians are unable to look after a child due to physical or mental illness.
  • Abandonment: A child has been abandoned or left alone for an extended period of time.

Proceedings may have already begun, or you may be at the stage where social services have only just become involved. It is vitally important you speak to a legal representative as soon as possible. Call us today for a FREE no obligation consultation.

When is a care orders are made?

The court will only make a care order if they are satisfied that the threshold criteria  is met – that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm and that the harm, or the likelihood of harm, is due to:

  • the care the child is receiving
  • the care the child is likely to receive if the care order isn’t made
  • the child being beyond parental control

These are known as the ‘threshold criteria’. The duty is on the local authority to show that the ‘threshold criteria’ has been met. A care order cannot be made once a child has reached the age of 17.

Care plans

Before a child is taken into care, the local Trust will produce a plan for the future care of the child. The parents and the child should be involved in developing this care plan.

The plan should show how the child’s needs will be met in care, including their health, education and contact with family members.

In most cases, decisions about the welfare of a child will be taken by their social worker, foster carer or residential care worker. The child’s birth parents may be involved in those decisions.

What is an interim care order?

Once care proceedings begin, the court can make an ‘interim care order’.

This places the child under the care or supervision of the local authority temporarily. It is issued if the court thinks that the threshold criteria has been met.

The interim care order can initially last up to 8 weeks, but the number of interim care orders that can be issued is unlimited.

If you need advice regarding any aspect of the law surrounding social services or interim care orders, call Keenan Solicitors today for FREE no obligation consultation.

How much does it cost?

We understand at this is extremely difficult time, concerns about the costs of seeking legal advice may put you off getting in touch.

Please do not let this be the case.

As a public body is bringing you to court, you are automatically entitled to legal aid to cover the costs of defending these proceedings.

The application is non-means tested, meaning anyone who is subject to care order proceedings will be granted legal aid.

Our expert solicitors will handle all legal aid applications, allowing you to focus on what matters at this important time.

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