A Second Chance: Getting Legal Aid for Discharging a Care Order

A Second Chance: Getting Legal Aid for Discharging a Care Order

When a child has been removed by the local authority, it would be because they are at a risk of ‘significant harm’. In these circumstances, a Care Order is made by the Court which gives the Local Authority shared parental responsibility with the parents, carers or guardians of the child.

However, whatever the reasons were for that Care Order being made, circumstances can change and the parents may have made substantial changes to their life and feel they are now in a position to care for their child again.

The Courts will always act in the best interests of the child and not the wishes of the parents, so if the Local Authority and Independent Reviewing Officer believe that the child should remain in care, the parents will have to convince the Family Court that the child’s welfare requires them to be returned back home.

If the Court believes that it would benefit the child more if they were returned home, the Court can discharge the Care Order and, with it, the Local Authority’s parental responsibility. Applying to discharge a Care Order will require legal advice to help prepare and present the case to the Court. Under certain circumstances, Legal Aid may be available to some individuals.

The Process

For parents applying to discharge a Care Order, there needs to be a lapse of time since the Care Order was made. Very few discharge applications will succeed within a year after the care proceedings, and virtually none within six months.

To apply for Legal Aid, the parents will need to convince the Legal Aid Agency that they have made a substantial change or improvements since the child was removed. By doing so, they are showing that there is merit in their application. They will also need to pass a means test because the Legal Aid Agency will expect those who can afford it to pay for their own solicitor fees.

How Blaser Mills can help

At Blaser Mills, we can we can sensitively guide you through the Legal Aid process to investigate your eligibility. If Legal Aid is granted, we can then start the process and our fees will be met from public funds. However, if you have the means available, you can instruct us privately, whatever the outcome of Legal Aid.

The Child Care team at Blaser Mills is led by the renowned Denise Herman, one of the most experienced and respected Child Care lawyers in England and Wales. The team specialises in all cases involving social services and public family law matters, acting with the utmost discretion and professionalism.

If you wish to discuss matters raised in this article, or any other issues related to Child Care, please contact Denise Herman on 01923 725015 or email deh@blasermills.co.uk.