Key Legal Principles

The law can seem very complicated and overwhelming for those who don’t deal with it on a daily basis. Even more so if you have to face the stress of a child protection investigation or court proceedings. Hopefully, if you are a parent involved in care proceedings you will have your own legal team, who you trust and are happy to work with and who can explain what is going on.

There is no substitute for proper legal advice from someone who is qualified to act on your behalf and who will have access to all the information about your proceedings, but for those who don’t have easy access to a lawyer or who are looking for some introduction or simple explanation we hope this is helpful.

Read more about:

Transparency – what can you talk about outside court

Balance of probabilities

Significant harm

Threshold criteria

Welfare Stage

23 thoughts on “Key Legal Principles

  1. Sarah

    Please help I had problems with my partner last year where we had a few arguements and fights my daughter witnessed a couple of these and social services took my daughter from me in December the courts have listened to the social worker and I was told that I would have support from them but had none I recently went to court to have my children at our home every other weekend but was told I still had to travel to my parents my children are desperate to come and spend time with both my self and partner but no body’s helping us or allowing for this to happen please tell me what I can do as there living with there father who domestically abused and raped me but that seems to be just fine the police have taken my case to cps regarding what happened with there father

    Reply
  2. claire adams

    my social worker is going to try to tack my kids off me and she keeps asking my kids if my salf hearts them like hiting them and are they happy with me and my kids are my life and my world with out them i hate to think what i would be like or who i would be i have 5 kids and my love for them is every think to me and iv never heart my kids they have never been to hospule for a bump on the head or eney think also and she is going to tack them off me and i kneed ti stop her befor she dose because if she dose my hart will never every be the same and i carnt cope with the thourt ov it

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      If you are worried your children are going to be taken away from you, this can’t happen unless the SW gets a court order or the police agree to remove them in an emergency but that is only for 72 hours and then a court order is needed. If the SW applies for an order, you will get a lawyer that the state pays for. It is the Judge who makes the decision, not the SW. Do you understand why the SW is trying to take your children away? What have people said to you? Do you have anyone helping you to understand? There might be some one you can talk to here
      http://childprotectionresource.online/legal-advice/

      Reply
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  4. linda graham

    a social worker is making things up about my daughter, and i can prove it. she made my daughter and 5 kids move into a 2 bedroom flat full of damp aspestoss, themn said if she didnt thay would remove her kids, she moved into flat now she sent council who basically broke in when she was out took pictures in cupboards which now is in the hands of a solicitor now there evicting her and have told her thay are going for an intrim order everything they are saying is lies and my daughter can prove this we need help how can we stop them harrasing her this has been going on for six years the children was on children in need but then that werent because my daughter refused to let them in thay are making up
    stuff about her and the kids thayre must be someone out thare who can help us .

    Reply
    1. HelenSparkles

      You need legal advice. If the local authority are making an application for an Interim Care Order, your daughter is entitled to free legal advice. I suggest you go on the law society website and look for a local solicitor who has children’s panel accreditation. There will normally be a meeting which is called different things in different LAs but is basically a meeting before care proceedings at which your daughter is entitled to, and should have, legal representation. It is the responsibility of the LA to set out their concerns to your daughter’s solicitor. It is normally be possible for you to attend to support her, I would suggest asking first as a courtesy. Although it is natural to think you will lose a child when the LA initiates care proceedings, the reason they are doing so is because they are worried, and social workers can’t make decisions about children on their own – they are asking a court to make a decision. The decision of the court is not a pre determined outcome. .

      Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      Dear Linda,
      As one ordinary parent to another, I suggest you enlist the help of ALL YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY however distant they might appear to be and you should all meet. Arrange a family conference.Your daughter and your grandchildren are vulnerable and need help NOW before court proceedings are started because then it will be too late! You should all get together quickly to make arrangements for the children. The family have a duty to put the children up or anything possible to keep them out of the care system.
      Really ,the CS should organise family conferences as recommended by the FRG.
      For further advice and for independent advocacy go onto the Family Rights Group website where they have a section specially for Grandparents. Your daughter will probably have been given by theSocial Worker a list of local independent advocacy services and told of her right to have one attend meetings and help her get her agreements and disagreements over. Has she got one? They have to follow the procedures and frameworks or it isn’t fair. Hope this helps.Good Luck.

      Reply
  5. Kerry Gaskell

    What rite do the legal profession, I,e,,,social worker / judge,
    Have to remove a crying child from it’s mother,
    Whom clearly whatts to stay

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      The ‘right’ to do this is set out in the Children Act 1989. A child can be removed from his/her parents if the state can prove on a balance of probabilities that the child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm.

      You may not agree that this law is correct and you may want it to be changed, but unless and until it is, the law very clearly gives a ‘right’ to social workers to remove children if they get an order from the court. The police can remove without an order for 72 hours if the child needs to be taken to place of safety.

      Reply
  6. Wendy

    Hi can u please help me it’s along story so il try n do it short
    My son who is now 17 nearly 18 at the age of 13 he got involved in older boys witch tuck him down the wrong rd he started shop lifting and tAking illegal highs my self n he’s dad have been together since we’re 16 n 17 we’re both 37 n 38 now n we trued r best help my son I ask local authorities to help me with him my son started been aggressive not to us or his others siblings but to the household breaking things me n my partner have 7 x beautiful childeren n we both love them all dearly as time went on wen he used to break things n shout I would take the 5x childeren out of the stitution till he had claimed down we would go for walks or to the park or ect our oldest son is 18 nearly 19 n he left school with 14 gcse as time goes on we had to send our 17 year old down to family for his safety but at this time I had no contact with my mum as I grow up with my dad n brother my 17 year old was staying with his uncle for a short time n I found out my brother tuck him to my mums n later on from that my mother’s husband grab my son n my son ended up punching the door in upset n anger he was only 15 later on from that my mother sent our 17 year old bk home to we were n had the check to ring s/ws up saying aloads of rubbish but don’t forget I haven’t seen her since I was little the next day after my 17 year old son returned home I got anock off s/w staying grandparents have got concerns I stoped I thought grandparents sadley I lost my dad a couple of years earlier n my mum in law was also poorly with dementia so I said u gotta be joking me how dear she as time went on my 17 year old was getting frustrated cause he couldn’t go outside the family home due to the trouble wat he got him self in to earlier then he started taking it out of home putting big holes in walls n ect later the next year after that I came to Yorkshire with my all my childeren n partner to my brothers n my brother ended up getting us spittle house with gardens n wen I got rid of s/ws finally I tried to help my mum by making sure she was ok then I found out the allegations was still carrying on her husband kept doing it I know she done it also she kept denying it and say it was her husband later on he passed away n on the 18 December I was having abig clearout getting rid of all kids stuff ready for Christmas my bedroom was a mess but I also had loads of Christmas present for the childeren but that evening we went to my brothers for a few hours to toast my mum in laws anniversary of her death top class lady witch was the 19 December 2016 so wen we got bk home earlier hours in the morning I done a stupid thing I overdosed my self cause I felt like everything was getting on top of me I soooo much regret it cause my 5 x childeren have suffered the most for not been at home I’ve never been with out my childeren wen I was in hospital s/w came to our home with the police cause my partner was very much upset finding me n relishing wat I had done the s/w said my partner uve got half n hour to get the kids out n to tidy up hold in mind it was only my bedroom that was abit mess y so as my 2 x older sons takes the 2 x little one out as soon as there got round the corner the police and s/w snatched my 2 x little one out of there brothers arms n smashed my 17 year old face in the wall n he was born with a disgustion birthmark on his cheek n his face was cut from that my 2 x little one was screaming apparently cause there didn’t understand wat happened then wen I got out of hospital a day or 2 later we were sent to court n a care order plan was done for my 5 x childeren there have spilt them up in to 2 x groups n later on we have worked n done everything the s/w wanted us to do I’ve been to let’s talk n ect n there said it just sounds like I had break down with everything going on n I don’t need any help as I only scored 9 n now we done parently assessment but I also think the s/w has got problem with us as she dosent seem to be helping us but doing the opposite to that I’ve said I would like addifferent s/w we both went in on the wensneday the 11/4/18 were due in court on the 8/4/18 for the final hearing wen we went in to see her she said the assessment is negitive I replied that dosent supprise me I new u we’re gonna do that my partner got up n walked out cause he was realy upset as we have done everything possible wat there asked us n she’s going against us in court I don’t think that this is fair as I’ve been a good mummy to all my childeren n just want the very best for them all the s/w has said I carnt believe that the 17 year old has done that much damage n trying to say it was us I said read all reports from wen I tried realy hard to get him help n also there did want me to kick my 17 year old son out on the streets with knowing that’s hes got nofriends or family he could go to them afew weeks to months went past just befor Christmas there did get him a hostel but at this time my son was on medication from the doctors for his depression wen I passed the medication to the s/w with passed it on to the support worker there give my son his medication bk n said do wat ever u want with them so I pleaded down the phone and asked him wen he comes down to bring them bk n that he would have to come daily for them as he’s very adderlession for his age I worry that’s wat mums do so cause the s/w gives him Avis pass there stopped giving him it n he would walk about 6 miles bk home for his medication in the mean time I also asked the s/w to help with his Benifit’s as he wasn’t getting any money for food n also community grant as he didn’t have any clothes as he burnt them the only thing he had was the clothes on his bk and also food parcels just in the meantime while everything gets up n running but no the s/w didn’t even help him fill in the form for Benifit’s and again he walked bk home so I done my best doing it for him I would go the shop n buy him pottnoodle , n ect as we got him akettle for the hostel were he wAs staying afew weeks later he then turned up n my oldest so. Said to me mum he’s for a realy big bruise on his face n I wasn’t happy at this point cause obviously something has happened to him at the hostel then he had to go bk after Christmas the 2/1/18 but he was strongly refusing to go so he ended up staying at home with his older brother n myself n my partner (dad) n not one person from socail services came out to see if he was ok not even a phone call n now she doungball this with my others childeren wen I asked her wat was the report saying n she replied bk we haven’t got time now n to make n appointment with my solicitor n asked her wats the best thing I should do about court n the p/assessment as she said it was negitive it’s broke my hart all this I don’t think this s/w has got any plans in helping us as a family wat can I do please cause I’m realy scared for my others 5x childeren as I want them all bk home I love each one off my 7x childeren with all my hart with only having my dad n brother wen I myself wen growing up this is my little big family wat can I do I would really appreciate any kind of help thank you il look forward from hearing from u I also told the socail worker I seen about 2year old bless him he was so dirty I also know druggies that have still there kiddies how n why us why not some who deserves all this the s/w it’s not about ppl who r on drugs so she saying that’s alright cause I don’t think it’s right I myself I don’t drink n go bingo 1/2 times aweek n don’t go clubbing or ect sorry for ranting on but I’ve read some of the post n ur reply’s so I thought I’d have ago cause u meight be able to help me oh yes also the 17 year old has realised his behaviour n I give the lad credit he’s turning his little life out now with no thanks to s/ws but he has also thanked us for not giving up on him my boy need help not crusiafing n my others childeren do not deserve to be took away from us I thought about going to the papers n telling them my story n hope some on can guid me to wat gonna happen wen we’re bk in court 12/4/18 thanks again

    Reply
    1. HelenSparkles

      If you are in court and there is talk of care orders, you need a solicitor. If the LA has not done what you and they think they should have done to help you, you can challenge the LA in court.

      Reply
      1. Wendy

        thank you for ur reply bk I’m realy greatful I would do absolutely anything for all my childeren all I do is make sure everyone is ok n happy I don’t drink or take drugs I don’t go out I keep my self to myself I feel realy sick how there can treat me like this I think it’s wrong I also said to s/w there’s plenty of ppl out there that deserve this witch are drug addicts n her reply was that’s not a problem I think there should start realy doing there job properly n stop picking on family that don’t deserve all this it’s bloody hart breaking to be honest

        Reply
  7. Abigail

    I changed pediatricians because I wasn’t satisfied with the doctor or her office and she got angry and called dcs on me saying I wasn’t getting medical help to my down syndrome son, but l already had an appointment with another doctor so the social worker said I was fine but she won’t close my case and she came back asking for the social security number s of my children…I’m just scared, I don’t know why she won’t close the case

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      Sorry Abigail, but you are going to have to ask her. No one here can help you as we don’t have the information we need.

      Reply
  8. benny

    Hi,
    This is very difficult, but my daughter has suffered with severe depression in the past, so when her baby was born, her first, she was immediately put under the watchful eye of the SS , it seems from a meeting I attended, that the person in charge of this department runs things her way and no other way, every one it seems is afraid to say no to her, when I spoke out at the meeting, every one stared at me in total disbelief, you could see the fear on the other social workers faces, like oh god and we invited him here, ever since then they have made my daughters life more and more difficult, I’m not sure which is which here, but the upgraded her from a child protection order to a child at risk order , I was told unofficially this was so my daughter had to now do every thing the SS say, and she has no choice or they will take her baby from her,
    her partner who she in no longer with has threatened her and beat her in the past, H now says he does not want any thing to do with the baby to the SS , but still phones my daughter saying he will come and take the baby from her, and has made threats to kill her, because when talking to him he seems like a nice plausible man of good character, I can see how the SS believe a lot of what he says, but the truth is he is a J AND H character, often high on cocaine and drink,
    My daughter is struggling to live where she is and wants to come home, but the SS have told her she has to stay where she is, if she leaves the area they will remove the baby,
    all this is just causing her to feel she is not a good mother, it is like the SS actually want her to do something wrong because of her past illness, even though other people that see her say she is a perfect mum, The SS will not say why they decided to up her category to child at risk, Her boy friend actually phoned me and said some things which when I asked him to prove he said he could not, when I said why, as my daughter has police and hospital reports of you assaulting her, he just said he never got any thing like that, my question really is, can the SS stop you from moving to a different area to be near your family,
    the madness of this is, the SS say she needs help and support, But are in fact stopping her getting this help from her family, I feel with all this added pressure from the SS she could again become severely depressed, the only real thing that keeps her going is her love for her baby,
    any advice would be helpful,

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      This does seem an odd situation. But they can’t remove her baby if she doesn’t consent without a court order or without persuading the police to use their powers of protection, which only last for 72 hours and then they have to go to court.

      This might be one of those cases where actually it is BETTER to be in court. If they start legal proceedings your daughter would have legal aid to get a lawyer. You could also ask to become involved as an intervenor. If you can offer your daughter a safe home it does seem crazy to deny her the chance to get that support – but of course I don’t know the facts of your case or if they have any particular worries about you as a safe home.

      If you really can’t understand why they are objecting, I would put forward a plan to them that on X date you propose to move your daughter. If they want to visit or ask social workers in your area to visit, that is fine. If they object to that plan, please could they tell your daughter exactly why and what proposals they are making instead to support her. If they can’t or won’t communicate with you then I think you do what is best for your daughter. However, be aware that if your daughter does move without their agreement, they may well start care proceedings. However, for the reasons I set out here that may not be a bad thing. At least then a court would have oversight of what is happening.

      I can’t helpfully say any more without knowing more about your case. The LA may have very good reasons to want her to stay where she is. If she has had serious mental health problems in the past for eg. she may need to stay local to keep in touch with her MH Team. If that is the case hopefully you can still support her from a distance, or make arrangements for her to be seen by another Team local to you?

      Reply
  9. Paul

    Is it a matter of harassment when a Social Worker attempts, quite aggressively, to get personal information, medical records etc… when it has already been established that there is absolutely no welfare issue? Our medical practice has been pursued by a social worker for our medical info with implied threats that things will go badly for us if they fail to provide the information demanded. This was over a week after it had been established there was no welfare issue and after the Doctors had said there was no welfare issue too. This situation has caused a lot of family stress and had the potential to escalate things. We would like to consider reporting things to the Police to stop this happening to other people but don’t know how they deal with it. We are in Scotland.

    Reply
  10. Sandra Durham

    My grandchildren were took by the aunt she had to go to another county .and pick them up she took them to DSS in her county. DSS already took them by the time my daughter could get here she called the aunt and the aunt said that DSS had brought papers out to her stating children could not be removed from that residence. The aunt also said she not know he caseworkers name or number. We tried for days to get intouch with someone at dss. We called 8 10 times aday . we finally talked with office mananger. She ask my daughter why did she abandon her children .my daughter told her she did not abandon them .and she ask her where did you leave them .my daughter told her i did nnot leave them with anyone. The aunt came and got them while i was in beaufort . office mananger made her a appoment.the next day my daughter and her boyfriend got pulled over they were. Surched and the boyfriend was locked up and they towed. The car in said there wasnt ins on it.my daughter came in and called the person the vec belonged to .he said there was ins on it . the aunt was in the distance watching everything
    . the aunt has friend s and family that wark at dss.she also was taking to them about my daugghter before reports was made. I believe they told how to get the children and open a case its gets better.. My daughter went to appointment the laws were there said if she failed drug test she was going to jail.she passed the test .they started talking about the reports that were made .abandonment.drug trafficing . mentally uunstable.abuse not getting dr care for children .fineanuly unable to care for children and some other stuff the caseworker ask her where did she want her kids to go to .she said my father.the caseworker said she would checkin to it .well the aunt found out about the kids going to grandpas .the aunt called and reported my husband and i for teaching the kids bad language and bad behavior and said thete was drug use in home.caseworker called and said we had to do drug test .we didn’t go first time .caseworker calked and said if we didnt go do drug test that day my daughter would be locked up. We went .during this time they had my daughter going up there ecver other day drug testing her she even went that day we went ..several weeks went by caseworker called and said we failed but we didnt that she could go have one done and hers would read the same that it was just in the air nothing else was said .my daughter was sent to court for child support .+800 a month .they took her medicade away said .she didnt have children anymore.so she had to pay assement and one of her classes cost 150 for 30 mins. The calass lasted 130 min. And she had other classes to take and pay for. Well she set all that up and all she had to do was go .well caseworker called and said she needed to meet with her so she went and the aunt found out she could get kids back after classes were finished the aunt reported that my daughter had thretened her . my daughter had proof she didnt . the caseworker told my daughter more aligations more assements so she was going to have tp go back and redo everything and it was costing my daughter for the aunts lies .come to find out the aunt had called dss 4 times and reported her fot nothing. My daughter did not go do anymore assements .or classes .but the aunt even went and took no contact order on my daughter at police station . the aunt would scream out at mu daughter at visits with children at dss and the caseworker was right there. And didnt say anything . all the reports the aunt made on my daughter were found to be false but the caseworker tricked her into signing papers that my daughter thought was for aunt to take children to dr . my daughter had signed papers stating everthing was true on reports . well when my daughter got the last papers they didnt go to court .they meet at dss and the agreement was it didnt matter how long it took just as long as my daughter took classes and all this that she could get children back .that we see children everyother week and she got them on holidays and birthdays. That the children would be there and aunt seen that everything was good . its been six months sence we have got to see kids and on the papers they are not allowed at our home becouse my husband and i failed for everything on drug test . said my daughter failed for meth . it is not true the we failed test not true. It was dec 16 2017 when aunt went and picked up children in beaufort .it was feb 2 2018 when they did urine drug test on children .said their test came back highly positive for meth .we did nit do thst to children the timing isnt right becouse meth can be out of your system 3 to 5 days after using . it had been 48 days from time aunt got them to the day they were drug tested and they hadnt be in our home couple of weeks before aunt got them .my daughter brought this up to caseworker and she said it was always the parents fault thatshe should not not put those children in her care . my dauther told her i did not put the children in her care .yall did . all the aligations the aunt reported on my daughter was proven to be false and my daughter did not get her children back and shes not going to get them back. DSS has closed the case and my daughter was told not to get in any trouble at all .well the aunt has went had papers fixed that my daughter to be locked up for child support. Ok thats my daughter getting into trouble she hads lost her children to a women that has told those kids there mom doest love them .if they cry for their after visits theu ever see her again . puts them to bed with nothig to eat and turn on a cooking channel. and make them watch it . the aunt cusses in front of them and when they repeat what they just heard the aunt will snack their mouths. In church the little girl screamed out at preacher told him to shut his damn mouth . thats hiw the aunt talks to them .the aunt had to go to conferences at school for her grandchildren for bad language bad behavior. She has 2 child endangermen. Charges on her. She wrecked with caseworker .the cadeworker was killed. She smokes pot. Does meth .going to t2 pain centers a month.and DSS was told about all this amd they are still with her.we reported aunt several times .nothing was done. Nothing is going to be done . i did tell dss that if we got the kids back i was going to carry them to the best dr and havve them evaluated and if somethigs wrong with them everyone invoved in this case is going to held responsible. I wrote to Washington. Children.org and a few other about all this and onrkeof them got intouch dss. And. DSS called my daughter said they were opening u but they were going to put. The same caseworker on it as the first time .my daughter hung up the phonel after having words with them .that was really just sticking in a knife where we already have been stabbed i dont trust dss . they passed a. Law or whateve llin 2018. That dss is supossed to give. Parents A lawyer in any stage of a case . they didnt my daughter they told her she didnt qulafiy. She has to pay for assements . classes . 800 child support . drug test . gey her own home .tranpertation.she has to pay aunts lawyers fees and court cost . how can someone do someone this way when they know my daughter was good mom .she didnt work becouse her daughter is sick .they lived with us almost the whole time they have been born only for a few months. My daughter and the babies dad lived together foe a little bit but he got to beating my daughter .she got enough of it and moved back home . the children have got seperation anxiety
    .when mom isnt around. Or if they. Cant see her. .i m wondering what their little minds and hearts feel like missing there mom and bing told there mom doesnt love them. Its almost more then i can take . my daughter should have got them back after dss seen all the reports were false . but they tricked my daughter into signing papers that they are trying to justafiy. as abuse .we were never investagated .6 moths before all this DSS came out and approved our home. To be safe . and they allowed this daughter and children to live with us. I dont get it. if you cant do your job right g. Ititet
    Your ass out of it and let someone else have it becouse. Theres no telling how many other families this person or people have torn down to make themselves look good . whatever you do. do not go into dss without a lawyer .do not sign anything tell them your bring a lawyer . .DSS never even told my daughter she needed a lawyer .they pushed her through until she has lost her children for good. Because when you sign papers they will. Slide one in that is you saying you did what the reports say you did . my daughter has proof the aunt gave false statments .and the aunts sister said they all did somthing that will get them all locked up for a long time.i know what it is they exposed the children to meth and blamed it on us . but what you put out there always finds its way back .i wouldnt. Want to be in their shoes.it comes back 7 times as bad

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I am guessing you are not in the UK from your description so I am afraid I am not going to be of much help; I only know about the law in England and Wales. You seem to be describing a case where there are some very serious concerns about your daughter ‘abandonment.drug trafficing . mentally uunstable.abuse not getting dr care for children’ and those will need to be investigated. I am concerned to read that your daughter is apparently not provided with a lawyer for any court hearings – this would not happen in the UK as parents get automatic legal aid in care proceedings. You need to get some urgent legal advice in your home country.

      Reply
  11. Carly

    My case with dss has been open for 13 months now, it all started because I had a light trace of oxycodone in my system when I gave birth. I haven’t failed a drug test since then, my son has been in kinship the whole 1st year of his life. I succesfully completed the 6 week intensive in home parenting program, I have passed my past 5 consecutive drug tests, I voluntarily started going to a suboxone clinic and stayed the for several months, as soon as I quit going my caseworker called and got information from them that I did not sign the release for…. and when my caseworker told me that she got this information she talked like it was necessary to prolong my case from being closed. I was 2 weeks away from having the case closed and I haven’t heard from her since. It’s been a little over a month. I’m scared to call her because I’m scared of her hitting me with some entirely new bs case plan and standing in between me and my son for even longer than dss already has. Help?!?! Idk what to do I just want my son without having to be supervised and for dss to be off of my ass. What do I do?
    &also A friend of mine told me if I moved away and dss couldn’t get in touch with us or basically find us for 45 days then the case would automatically close. Is this true?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I don’t know what DSS is – are you in the UK?

      If not, I assume the situation is similar in any other country – IF there are child protection concerns, they won’t go away just because you move and can’t be found for 45 days. That is likely only to increase concerns. If you have shown that you aren’t taking drugs by staying clean over a period of time, this should be a very good sign. I would keep doing that. And TALK to your caseworker. Tell her you are worried and ask what is going on. It’s easy for worries to spiral out of control; don’t let that happen.

      Reply

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