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Section 20 Agreements

We advise that you should not sign a section 20 agreement, without seeking advice from a solicitor. If you have already signed the section 20 agreement without legal advice, you should book an appointment with a solicitor straight away.

A Social Worker may ask you to sign an agreement under section 20 Children Act 1989.  This is your agreement to your child being taken from your care. It allows a Social Worker to remove your child without a court order.  The Social Worker may say to you that Children’s Services are very worried about your child and they think it is best for your child to be placed with family or go into foster care.

Whether or not you should sign the agreement, will depend upon the circumstances of your case.

 Issues that may concern you are:

  • I believe the best place for my child is at home, if the Social Worker does not agree, do I have to consent for my child to live elsewhere?
  • The Social Worker wants to put my child into foster care, but I have family who can care for the child. I would like my child to go live with their grandparents or an aunt and uncle, why will the Social Worker not consider that?
  • I am scared of going to court yet the Social Worker is threatening this, should I just sign the agreement?
  • How long will the section 20 agreement last for?
  • The Social Worker says if I consent, they will do a ‘parenting assessment’ which takes 6-12 weeks. Will my child come home after 6-12 weeks or will it be longer?
  • I know I need to get some help, but if I agree to this, will Children’s Services help me so my child can return home?

If you sign the agreement, it is not a court order. You can withdraw your consent to the agreement.

If you withdraw your consent to the agreement and ask for your child to come home, Children’s Services would either need to allow this to happen or alternatively make an application to court. 

It is important that you seek legal advice.  One of our Child Care solicitors will be able to advise you on the law regarding such agreements, and answer any questions that you may have so that you can make an informed decision about your child. We offer free initial appointments and can assess you to see if you qualify for legal aid. Contact us on 01905 721600 to speak to a member of our Child Care Team.


Team members

Phil Harris
Partner, Family Law

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