Social Services Have Removed My Child – What Can I Do?
Social services cannot remove your child without your consent, or a court order. If social services ask you to consent to the removal of your child, it is called voluntary accommodation. We would strongly recommend that you speak to us for expert advice before making this decision.
All initial advice and enquiries are entirely free. We are friendly and approachable solicitors in Derry.
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Social Services Solicitors Northern Ireland
As soon as you are contacted by social services, we strongly recommend that you speak to our family law solicitors in Northern Ireland straightaway. Once we have listened to the circumstances of your case, we can advise you of your rights and options.
In the first instance, it is likely that social services will suggest that your child is removed from your care for a period of time. Often there is a concern that you are struggling to look after your child, and that some respite would be beneficial for all involved.
If you agree to this idea, it is called voluntarily accommodation. The law states that as a parent, you still retain all your legal rights.
However, consenting to voluntary accommodation is a major decision. It is not something that should be taken lightly. You really need to speak to a solicitor first, because only then can you make an informed decision. Otherwise, you may consent to something that you later regret.
What to do if Social Services have already removed your child
If social services have already removed your child, it is useful to know that as a parent, you are still entitled to contact. If you would like to see your child more frequently, or social services try to deny you contact, you can apply for a court order.
We can help you negotiate increased contact with your child, making an application to the court if necessary.
Discharging full Care Orders
If there is a full court order in place, you ask the court to ‘discharge’ or cancel the care order after 12 months. If a court is going to agree to this, it will want to see that you have worked alongside social services to remedy any problems that they identified.
The court will consider your position and decide whether or not to end the order. Sometimes it will be changed to a supervision order instead, meaning that your child can return home, but will still be monitored by social services.
Alternatively, you can appeal the order. However, there are very limited grounds on which an appeal can be made. These are very technical – for example, the court has made a legal mistake.
Have social services contacted you? If so, we urge you to speak to our solicitors without delay. We can explain what social services are proposing and what it means for you and your family.
If Social Services have already removed your child, we can explore the options going forward.
We know that you might be concerned about the cost, but it is likely that you are entitled to legal aid. If so, you do not have to pay any legal fees.
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