The local authority have issues Care Proceedings in relation to my child, they are seeking Care Orders on the basis of neglect as they say the care I am providing is below that which a reasonable parent would give. Under what circumstances will they succeed in obtaining such an order?
A care order is an order placing a child in the care of a local authority. For example, if you live in Sunderland it would be an order placing your child in the care of Sunderland City Council.
In care proceedings, the local authority must prove two things in order to convince the court that the care orders should be made.
Firstly, that the child in question is suffering or is likely given the circumstances to suffer significant harm.
Significant harm can be caused by ill-treatment or by affecting your child’s health and development. For instance, neglect can impact on physical and emotional health of your child.
If the level of neglect within your family is considered to be ill-treatment then the court will consider whether the neglect has caused ‘significant’ harm to your child or whether it is likely to do so in the future.
When considering if the harm caused to your child is significant the court will compare the health and development of your child with what would reasonably be expected of a similar child. For example, a child the same age from the same type of background.
If the court find your child has or is likely to suffer significant harm then, they must also go on link this harm to your standard of parenting. The court will consider whether your parenting is what is reasonable to expect a parent to give.
If the court find that your child has been neglected or is likely to be neglected in the future in a manner which causes significant harm and that you are the cause of it, the court will then consider whether it is therefore in the best interests of your child for a care order to be made.
As is clear from the above process the court must really scrutinise the evidence and be satisfied of several things before a care order is made.
If the court makes the care order then it will remain in force until your child reaches 18.
Given the serious nature of these proceedings, please do not delay in instructing a solicitor. You will be provided legal aid to defend against care proceedings, legal representation would be free.
Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.