Care Proceedings, or to use the technical term, Public Law children matters, are cases where Children’s Services (Social Services) and the Local Authority are involved with your children.
If the Local Authority have concerns about children the children may be placed on a Child in Need plan, or a Child Protection plan. Butcher & Barlow has an experienced Care team who can assist you if you are the parents or grandparents of children or another family members of children who are subject to such a plan. It is important to obtain advice at an early stage if such concerns are raised about your children to avoid matters escalating.
If the Local Authority feel that they may need to issue proceedings in relation to children they can start a pre-proceedings protocol (known as pre-proceedings or PLO).
If the Local Authority start the PLO you will be sent a letter inviting you to a meeting. Your legal adviser is able to attend this meetings with you under the Legal Aid Scheme. You will be entitled to Legal Aid if you are a parent of the child concerned, or you have Parental Responsibility for the child. In this type of case, you would not have to pay anything towards your legal costs.
If the Local Authority issue Court proceedings in relation to the children this is called public law proceedings.
The Local Authority may apply for a Care Order or a Supervision Order. If you are a parent of a child or have Parental Responsibility for a child who is subject to an application made by the Local Authority, the Family Law team here at Butcher and Butcher is able to represent you within all stages of the Court proceedings. We are also able to obtain Legal Aid to cover the costs of such proceedings and you would not have to pay towards your legal costs.
Sometimes where the Local Authority issue proceedings in relation to children, other family members who are not parents of the children, or friends, may become involved. We are also able to advise family members or friends who are involved in care proceedings.
Butcher & Barlow has solicitors who are on the Law Society Children Law Panel. This is a panel that recognises expertise to represent parties within public law proceedings. Three of our solicitors, Rachel Cryan, Kevan Hankinson and Nicola Wingfield, are able to represent children within public law proceedings as well as adults. We therefore have a wide range of experience and expert knowledge to represent all parties within public law children proceedings.