Section 20 Agreements Explained
Help with a Section 20 Agreement
A Section 20 Agreement refers to Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The Section 20 Agreement allows social services to take a child from their home and place them into safe alternative accommodation, often temporarily, in agreeance with the parents of the child.
This is a voluntary agreement between the parent or parents and social services, and parents have the choice not to sign this agreement if they do not want to.
Access to Legal Representation when Signing a Section 20 Agreement
Parents are in any case allowed access to legal representation before signing a Section 20 Agreement, and they should be given plenty of time to discuss the agreement and the terms of the agreement with their solicitor before making any decision.
It is a big decision to allow social services to remove your child from your care, even if it’s only a temporary solution, so it shouldn’t be made without receiving proper guidance.
If you have been presented with a Section 20 Agreement and you would like legal advice and support from a trusted solicitor, we can help. Our children and care proceedings solicitors are experts in their field and are here for you to support you throughout the process. We can also support you with all other legal matters relating to your children, social services, and care proceedings.
In many cases Legal Aid will be available to you. Our solicitors are based in offices across the UK.
Revoking your Consent
When you sign the Section 20 Agreement your child will be taken and placed in care. At any stage thereafter you have the right to change your mind, as this is a voluntary agreement. This means that you can revoke your consent.
When you revoke your consent and social services believe it is safe for the child to return home, likely when further assessments are ongoing, your child will be returned to your care. However, where social services believe your child to be at risk of significant harm in your care, they could apply for an Emergency Protection Order or an Interim Care Order while further investigations or care proceedings are ongoing. Such an order will allow them to remove the child from your care without your consent.
Benefits of a Section 20 Agreement for Parents
Neither yourself nor social services would consider a Section 20 Agreement if there were not any problems to resolve. Signing a Section 20 Agreement and having your child temporarily taken from your care can give you the time to rest and make changes to meet the requirements set out by social services.
By working with social services and working towards a positive outcome for your child while they are in a safe place can show your commitment to ensuring your child is looked after and cared for. Social services do not want to remove children from their parents where improvements can be made within their current living situation to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Therefore, working with them and focussing on what needs to be done could as a result lead to a situation where your child remains in your care.
If you do not show any improvement and social services can provide evidence that you cannot provide for your child with the care it requires then care proceedings will likely follow and your child could be taken out of your care permanently.
Solicitors for Support with Section 20 Agreements
For legal guidance regarding your child matters and advice on signing a section 20 agreement, get in touch.
All advice is correct at time of publication.