The Local Authority may have started court proceedings and applied for a ‘Care Order’. These court proceedings can take approximately six months. During these court proceedings, the Judge will gather evidence to consider where your child should live long term, Final decisions about whether a care order should be put in place will not be made until the end of the proceedings.
At the start of the court proceedings, the Local Authority can ask the court to make an ‘Interim Care Order’ (ICO). This is an order giving the Local Authority ‘parental responsibility’ for the child whilst the proceedings are ongoing. It can mean that whilst the court case takes place, they remove your child and place your child with a family member or alternatively foster care.
An ‘ICO’ is an interim order and will only last until the end of the proceedings (up to 26 weeks – which can be extended in exceptional circumstances) or until a further order is issued.
There are different scenarios which you may be faced with at court
- When you get to the first hearing, your child may still be living with you. Children’s Services may have said to you that they wish to ask the court to remove your child from your care at the first hearing.
- Alternatively, your child may have already been removed from your care and placed with a family member. Your child may have been living there for a number of weeks or months. The Local Authority may ask the court for your child to remain living there but under an Interim Care Order. You may or may not agree with having the court order.
- Another scenario may be that your child has been living in foster care for some time. The Local Authority may ask for an ‘Interim Care Order’ to be put in place so the child can remain in foster care whilst the court proceedings take place.
- You may be in a situation where your child has been living with a family member, but the Local Authority is now saying they believe that the child should go into foster care. You may or may not agree with the decision. You may wish to argue to the court that your child should remain with the family.
You may have views about whether an Interim Care Order should be made and what the plans should be for your child. It is important the Judge hears your arguments.
This is a very important decision for the Judge. Factors which the Judge will consider are:
- Should the child continue to live with parents –is it right to remove the child from their home?
- Is there any way that the child can continue to live with the parent and support be put in place?
- Is there a family member who can care so that the child does not have to go into foster care?
- Should brothers and sisters be separated?
- What should contact arrangements be between the child and its parents/family if the child is removed from their home.
You should seek immediate advice from a solicitor in relation to Interim Care Orders. Contact us on 01905 721600 and speak to a member of our specialist Child Care Team.