Legally reviewed by: Jonathan Pollard Updated:

Care Orders

Care order

If you’re faced with your child being removed from your care, Cartwright King’s experienced Child Care team can help you challenge a Care Order or Interim Care Order. You have the right to legal advice when dealing with child care issues, and we’re here to give you clear, professional advice to protect your rights.

Get in touch with a Cartwright King Child Care solicitor, today.

Calm, collected child care solicitors

Child care cases can be distressing and complex, requiring sure, trustworthy guidance to support you through legal proceedings. Cartwright King’s calm, collected, non-judgemental approach to your case provides the peace of mind and sensible legal advice you need to ensure that you’re treated fairly and your voice is heard.

Why choose Cartwright King for Care Order cases?

Many of our experienced Child Care solicitors are accredited by the Law Society’s Children’s Panel to offer you trusted advice. We have supported many families faced with Child Care and Interim Child Care Orders made against them, and we will do everything we can to keep your family together.

Cartwright King’s Child Care team listens, understands and cares about your legal rights. It’s our commitment to protecting your best interests that makes us the right law firm to represent you.

Get in touch with the Cartwright King Child Care team, now.

How will Cartwright King help with Care Orders?

Cartwright King’s Child Care team is there when you need them most, to offer you legal advice if you’re faced with a Care Order or Interim Care Order. If you’ve received Court paperwork, an Interim Care Order or final Care Order, you can contact us immediately to discuss your legal options and how you want to proceed.

Every step of the way, we will guide you through legal proceedings, including representation in Court. We will ensure that you understand everything that is happening, representing you professionally and with compassion at all times.

Legal fees

We can discuss private paying fee arrangements.

Interim Care Order: Grandparents

If a Local Authority decides to take steps to protect a vulnerable child by removing them from their parents without their consent, they must issue Care Proceedings and obtain an Interim Care Order for the child in question.

In such cases, grandparents aren’t considered or entitled to be responsible for the interim care of the child by default. If you are a grandmother or a grandfather who doesn’t have registered parental responsibility for their grandchildren via a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangement, you will not be automatically involved in any care proceedings and your rights to see your grandchildren may be affected.

The law dictates that mothers, as well as fathers with parental responsibility for the child, are automatically parties to the proceedings. Fathers and grandparents without parental responsibility can also make an application to the court to take part in the proceedings.

If you become aware that your grandchildren are involved in proceedings, you can contact the local authority and request to be assessed. The Local Authority is under a duty to ensure that they have explored all members of the wider family that put themselves forward to care for the children before the court makes any decisions.

At Cartwright King, we can assist you if you become involved in care proceedings to ensure that you have the best possible chance of reaching a favourable outcome.   

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Frequently asked questions.

What’s the difference between an Interim Care Order and a Care Order?

An Interim Care Order is a temporary Order made by the Court until a Final Care Order can be made.

Who can apply for a Care Order?

Your local authority can apply for a Care Order if it is worried that your child is suffering or might be at risk of suffering significant harm. This can be done under the 1989 Children Act.

It is usually the social services department of your local authority who will apply for a Care Order, but on the rare occasion the NSPCC may apply.

A Care Order may be ‘final’, meaning it is made at the end of a Court case. Or, it might be an Interim Care Order, meaning it has been made while the Court case is ongoing.

If a Care Order is made, whether interim or final, your child will be placed under the care of the local authority, giving them parental rights over your child.

To do this, a judge will have to prove that your child is, or is at risk, of suffering significant harm. As the parent, you are given a chance to argue against this during a Court case.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a Care Order, interim or final, you should speak with an experienced Cartwright King child care solicitor as soon as possible. Remember that parents are entitled to free legal advice in these matters.

What effects do Care Orders have?

If made, a Care Order will give the local authority parental responsibility, which it will share with anyone who already has it, such as the child’s parents. This means the local authority will have the power to make decisions about your child’s life, such as who the child should live with, and may be able to override you in certain circumstances.

The Care Order will last until your child is 18 years old, unless it is cancelled sooner. This is known as ‘discharged’. Care Orders cannot be made if a child has reached the age of 17, or 16 if the child is married.

Who can contact a child under a Care Order?

Whether a Care Order is interim or final, the local authority has to make sure you have reasonable contact with your child. This is a legal obligation that the local authority cannot ignore.

If the local authority wants to stop contact between you and your child for more than seven days, it needs a Court order to do so. The Court can authorise the local authority to refuse contact if there is evidence that this will improve the child’s welfare.

Any parent may ask the Court for an order if they think the local authority is not allowing them enough contact.

What are the duties of the local authority toward a child under a Care Order?

If a Care Order is granted, the local authority becomes responsible for making sure that the child receives appropriate care and that they are looked after by suitable carers.

Whether there is an interim or final Care Order, the local authority will regularly review the child’s arrangements, including the child’s contact with family members and the child’s health, medical and educational needs.

These are included in the child’s care plan. All local authorities have to appoint an independent reviewing officer who will ensure that the child’s care plan meets his or her needs and that the local authority complies.

It is important to remember that the local authority has a duty to try to keep your child within the family if it is safe and in the child’s best interests. This means it has to consider whether both parents can look after the child.

It also has to look at whether other family members (or other people connected to the child) can look after the child. It is only when these options have been considered and ruled out that the local authority will want the child to be placed in foster care, a residential home or ask for the child to be adopted.

Even if there is a Care Order, parents or family members can still look after children, it just means that the local authority will still be heavily involved in the family’s life.

What are care proceedings?

Care proceedings are court proceedings that follow a Care Order or Supervision Order application to a court by the social services of your local authority (i.e the city council). 

How long do court (care) proceedings take?

The length of any court case is different depending on its complexity but on average, care proceedings related to child care orders take approximately 40 weeks to complete.

What is a legal guardian?

During child care order proceedings, a legal guardian is appointed to the child. Their role is to protect the best interests of the child, regardless of whether this aligns with the best interests of the parents or of the local authority. The guardian can be a family member, such as a grandparent, a family friend or another person that the court deems appropriate.

What is an interim care order?

An interim care order is a temporary order made by the court until a final care order can be made at the conclusion of the proceedings.

How long does a care order last?

When a final care order is made, it is in effect until the child turns 18 unless it is discharged prior to this

Can I appeal a care order?

Yes, a care order can be appealed by either you or your child within 21 days of being made. 

Can I end a care order and get my child back?

You, your child and the local authority have the opportunity to apply to discharge (which means cancelling)  a care order at any time.  There is no time limitation on such applications. 

Can a care order be used to remove an abuser from the child's home?

Yes, if it can be proven that doing so would protect the child from harm and that someone else who lives in the same household can take care of the child. 

The care order can be used to make the abuser leave the property and forbid them from reentering or even coming near the home where the child lives. 

If an arrest order is attached to the care order, then the police have the right to arrest the abuser on-site without the need for a warrant. 

If the child is removed from their home by the local authorities for more than 24 hours, the order is no longer applicable and the abuser can return. 

What is a care plan?

If the social services want to remove your child from your care, they must provide a detailed care plan to the court. This plan should detail the needs of the child and how the social services are planning to meet those needs. It should also set out a clear process for implementation and management of the care plan.

The care plan should be constantly reviewed and updated as the needs of the child change based on how they progress and adapt to their new environment. If you disagree with the care plan offered, speak to one of our child care solicitors and we will explore what steps you need to take to prevent it from being implemented.

What does an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) do?

If a care order has been made an Independent Reviewing Officer will be appointed to “look after” your child. They will be responsible for overseeing the care provided by the local authority and assisting in the care plan review procedures.

If the independent reviewing officer notices an issue and deems it necessary, they could escalate it to the Children & Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). 

Why is a social worker coming to visit my home?

A social worker may want to visit your home if someone has raised concerns about your child to the local authorities. The social worker’s goal is to protect the child’s best interests, so they will be willing to help you and advise you on how to improve your child’s living situation. Taking legal action to remove a child from their home is always a last resort. 

How do I protect my child from being kidnapped by my partner?

If you believe that your partner may violate a care order and take your child without permission, you should not allow them to have unsupervised contact with the child. 

If you worry that your child may be taken out of the country against their will, make sure to find their travel documents (passport) are kept safe and out of reach. 

You can also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to keep your partner from seeing your child altogether. Speak to one of our child care solicitors for advice. 

If you think that your partner has already taken your child, please contact the police immediately. 

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