Wakefield  01924 387 171

Leeds  0113 397 9550

Pontefract  01977 790 029

Childcare Proceedings

Childcare Solicitors Leeds, Pontefract & Wakefield

Speak to a childcare law expert on

01924 387 171

The law relating to children is highly specialised. At JWP we recognise that if you are involved in a court case with social services concerning a child you need the best quality advice and expert representation. We pride ourselves on these qualities and have a dedicated team of 7 childcare lawyers with over 80 years combined experience.

Free first meeting for new clients
Fixed Fees
Available
Out of hours appointments

We regularly represent clients in the following:

  • Care Proceedings/ Emergency Protection applications, when the Social Services Department wants to remove children from their family
  • Applications to discharge (end) a Care Order
  • Applications for contact with a child in care
  • Applications for Secure Accommodation Orders
  • Child Protection Registration
  • Wardship applications
  • Cases involving another jurisdiction (i.e. outside England & Wales)
  • Adoption and Placement Orders 
  • Representing children in Contact/Residence applications
  • Advising young people already in local authority care
  • Complaints against the Local Authority

Our lawyers are fully qualified and have extensive experience in all aspects of childcare law. Five of our solicitors are members of the Law Society Accredited Children Panel, enabling them to undertake all matters, including acting for a child in proceedings. This means that you can be confident that your case is in the best possible hands at JWP Solicitors.

Our childcare solicitors can help with

 
Talking to Social Services
 
Attending planning meetings
 
Representing you at Court

How much will it cost?

Legal Aid is available in child care cases

Frequently asked questions

Can my child tell the court what he or she wants to happen to them?

Yes. It will depend on the circumstances of the case and the level of understanding of the child concerned. As a “rule of thumb” it would be highly unusual for a child under 10 years to have sufficient understanding of the circumstances of his or her case and the implications of the various outcomes of any Court hearing. Equally, it would be unusual but not unheard of, for a young person over 14 years to be considered to be of insufficient understanding. Between these approximate ages there are many variables to take into account. The solicitor will decide whether he or she can take instructions directly. This decision will be taken after very careful consideration, including meeting the young person several times, and if appropriate, speaking with parents or other carers, school teachers, health professionals if they are involved and with Social Workers. Also, the professional Guardian, if appointed by the Court, will also contribute to the discussion but it is the child’s solicitor who will ultimately decide.

The Local Authority wants to place my child for Adoption. Can this happen without my consent?

If you do not agree to your child being placed for adoption then the Local Authority cannot arrange this without a Court Order. Such an order can only be obtained if the Court is satisfied that the parent has had every opportunity to be heard at court and also satisfied that certain legal criteria have been met. The Local Authority cannot go to Court without telling you that this is what they are doing.

How long will it take for me to get my children back from care?

Each case will depend on its circumstances. It is true that some children do not return home but in many cases they do. From April 2014 the law says that all care proceedings must be concluded within 26 weeks. Time runs from when the case comes before the court and not when your child leaves your care, which may have been much earlier. If the Local Authority has intervened in your family and have decided this is necessary to protect your child it is important to take legal advice and representation to ensure that yours and your children's right to family life is the focus.

The social worker wants me to agree to my child living elsewhere. Should I agree?

Sometimes the Local Authority asks parents to agree to arrangements for children without going to court. This might mean your child staying with a friend or relative for a short period of time or may be a foster carer. Sometimes it can be appropriate and something which you wish to agree to. However, it may be in your interests and your child’s interests to have the case put before a court for a Judge to decide what is best for your child and avoid delay. The court will make an interim decision that is in the best interests of your child within 12 days of the case coming before the court.

My grandchildren are in the care of the Local Authority. Is there anything I can do?

Yes. Lots of grandparents find themselves in this situation and the Courts are very used to grandparents offering to care for their grandchildren if they cannot be with their parents. Usually there needs to be an assessment of the grandparent to see if the child would be safe and well cared for if placed with his or her grandparent. However, if agreement cannot be reached with the Local Authority concerned, the Court will hear applications from grandparents and make a decision as to what outcome the Court believes is in the child’s best interests. Even where children cannot be cared for by grandparents often arrangements are made for the grandparents to see them.

I do not like my Social Worker. Can I ask for a different one?

The short answer is yes. However, a change in social worker is not always possible or appropriate. Local Authorities only have so many resources and so changing a social worker is not always easy or possible even if desirable. Sometimes people ask for a change of social worker because they don’t like what they are being told. In other cases there are proper reasons to complain about a social worker and if so there are procedures to follow. We can help by talking through the problems with you and making the request on your behalf if you feel that a change of social worker is appropriate.

My child had to go to hospital and the doctor there has said that the injury is non-accidental? What does this mean and can I get a second opinion?

 At times like this you need access to immediate legal advice to explain the procedures and legal process. In these circumstances the medical professionals are saying that the explanation given for the injury is inconsistent with their medical findings. These can be very frightening times for a parent. However, until all the circumstances can be investigated it is usual for the child to be placed with foster carers or a family member. It is important that you have legal advice as soon as possible. Usually a second medical opinion is sought and questions can be asked. Again you will need expert advice about this. We have a great deal of experience in this particular area.

Is Public Funding (Legal Aid) available for me?

If you are a parent (including an absent parent), or person with parental responsibility (including delegated responsibility), and the local authority has issued an application to Court to remove your child and place him or her in care – yes, you are entitled to free legal advice and representation. The same applies to a child who is subject to such an application and to some carers depending upon the circumstances. In other cases (e.g. other types of applications such as contact, when the child is in the care of the Local Authority) public funding may be available subject to satisfying a means and merits test. We can assist in this process and also advise you about other types of funding. Grandparents and other relatives have to satisfy the means and merits tests in all circumstances, although if they were caring for the child when the Local Authority intervened they may be entitled to free advice and representation. Again we can help with this.

If I cannot have public funding how much will it cost to have a solicitor or barrister represent me?

This is a difficult question to answer as all cases are different and will present different issues for the Court to consider and decide upon. A fully contested case at Court with many people involved can be expensive because of the time involved to prepare and fully argue and present your case. We are conscious of the expense to our clients and do our very best to give accurate estimates of the likely costs. However, these are estimates and not quotes or fixed fees so we will keep costs under review so that you can keep track of the expenditure. We charge an hourly rate and submit regular bills so that you are not faced with a large bill at the end of the case. We do ask for payment to be made as and when bills are delivered. Sometimes however, some initial advice is all that is required and this can limit the expense to you and your family. In every case, we suggest that you simply ask us. We promise to be honest with you about the likely costs and involve you every step of the way so that the expense doesn’t get out of control.

John Wood

John Wood

Childcare / Crime / Licensing
JWP Solicitors Director

Direct Dial 0113 3979 550

Amanda Steele

Amanda Steele

Childcare
JWP Solicitors Director

Direct Dial 01977 790029

Joanne Whitehead

Joanne Whitehead

Childcare / Family
JWP Solicitor

Direct Dial 01924 387 171

Lois Monks

Lois Monks

Childcare / Family
JWP Solicitor

Direct Dial 01977 790029