Child Care Solicitors
The protection of children from harm is the responsibility of their parents, but sometimes it all goes wrong. One or more parents may have problems that make them unable to look after the children: it may be mental health problems, it may be alcohol or drugs, or simply that a single parent cannot cope with the responsibilities of looking after a child or children on their own. The State, in the form of Social Services Departments, have a duty to step in, and to help parents to look after their children, to promote their children’s interests. In the last resort, Social Services are under an obligation to consider removing the children, temporarily, or long term.
Social Workers are not above the law. They are required to work with families, to try to keep the family together, and only in the last resort to look at removal of the child. They must look at the possibility that other family members may be able to look after the children, if their own parent or parents cannot. For a child to be removed from its parents, Social Services can only act with the parents consent, or with a Court Order. Court Proceedings, by their very nature, are there to ensure that the parents have a fair and proper hearing of their case, so that the child is not removed either temporarily or forever, without due process of law.
It is a sad feature of these cases that there is considerable muddle, misunderstanding and drift. The law lays down obligations on Social Services Departments that they simply cannot fulfil.
The stress on Social Workers and the pressure of work, means that often there are mistakes made; or decisions are never made; or if made, never implemented.
It is for this reason that Legal Advice is so important. The Law Society has established a Children’s Panel of Solicitors qualified to act for parents and for children in these Court Proceedings, of which Attwood & Co is a member. Our Child Care department is headed by our Partner Richard Bradbury.