If your Local Authority Children’s Services are applying to Court to take your grandchild, niece, nephew or cousin into care, you are likely to be as anxious as the parents about what this means for your family and loved ones.
You are also likely to feel pushed out of the process and unable to help your young relative, however you may not be aware of additional rights you might have to participate in the process and help your family.
Non-means and non-merits tested Legal Aid
If you are a biological parent of a child, or have parental responsibility for them, then we can help you for free. It does not matter what your case is, and how much money you have, you are automatically entitled to full legal representation. This means that not only mothers and fathers, but also step-parents with Parental Responsibility agreements in place and relatives who have a “Living With” Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order can be represented under Legal Aid.
If you are in this position and do not have a lawyer, then please make contact with us straightaway and we will take immediate action to protect your interests.
For other relatives
If you have been made a party or intervener in Care proceedings, or would like to be, then you are potentially eligible for Legal Aid subject to means and merits tests. You would need to provide detailed evidence that you are on a low income, and we would have to convince the Legal Aid Agency that you have at least a marginal (45%) chance of a positive outcome. These applications can be worth making as a well-represented relative can mean the difference between adoption and a placement in the family.
In an emergency, we can self-grant you Legal Aid so long as you show us enough evidence to prove that you will be eligible for funding when we make a full application. Please discuss this with us if you feel you need urgent legal assistance.
Ask the Local Authority
If the Local Authority is supporting you to be an alternative carer, ask about them funding a fixed fee of Legal Advice as we can provide an objective and independent view of the case and help you understand the Local Authority’s care plan and how it will affect you.
Finally, there always remains the option of proceeding on a privately paying basis.
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.