My colleague, Laura Webster, recently wrote about the difficulties with contact between separated co-parents, but what about if your co-parent is the Local Authority? Parents may be able to get Legal Aid to take the Local Authority to Court for more contact with a child in the care system.
Local Authorities are under a duty to promote ‘reasonable’ contact between the children in their care and their parents. ‘Reasonable’ is, by definition, a very vague word but clearly contact can only be reasonable if it meets the best interests of the children they have a duty to look after. It would not be reasonable for a Local Authority to take a money-focused or overly risk-averse approach if this harmed those best interests.
Blaser Mills can investigate your eligibility for means and merits tested Legal Aid. The Legal Aid Agency will want to see that you have at least a ‘marginal’ (45% chance) of success and will need to make sure your income and savings are below a certain amount. In the event that you are not eligible for Legal Aid, you may wish to consider proceeding privately.
With funding in place, we can open a dialogue with the Local Authority. If the negotiations are not constructive, then we can issue Court proceedings on your behalf for a Judge to make a final decision. A Guardian will be appointed to represent the best interests of your children, and this would usually be the Guardian from the original Care Proceedings.
The Court will consider what order, if any, would be in the best interests of your children. It is important that your case is put in terms which would persuade the Court that increased contact with you is appropriate and beneficial. The Court would never make an order which it considered would be unsafe, or would expose your children to the risk of harm.
It is therefore important that your case is put sensitively, and powerfully, so that you are best placed to promote the interests of your children.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.