Frequently Asked Questions
Care Proceedings are Court Proceedings issued by the Children’s Services department of the Local Authority where an application is made for a “Care Order” or “Supervision Order” in respect of a child. If Children’s Services believe a child is at risk of significant harm, they can apply to court for permission to take action to protect the child – these are known as Care Proceedings. This can sometimes include a request to place the child into foster care in the short term. It is very important for a parent to be represented by a solicitor in these proceedings so that the Judge can hear their voice. Legal Aid is available for care proceedings.
Children’s services will initiate the pre-proceedings process prior to issuing care proceedings. A pre-proceedings letter will be sent inviting the parents to attend a pre-proceedings meeting. The meeting will be attended by the parents, social worker and legal representative on both sides. A plan of expectations of the parents will be prepared and parents will have 12 weeks to demonstrate these changes. Ultimately, care proceedings will be initiated if these changes are not implemented effectively and Children’s Services continue to have significant concerns for a child’s safety. Legal Aid is available for pre proceedings.
The law is designed to protect parents and carers from having children taken away without a good reason. If Children’s Services feel that there is an immediate risk to the child, they are likely to begin Court proceedings immediately, the court will ultimately make the decision as to whether to approve a plan of removal of a child from the parents’ care. However, usually, Children’s Services try to work with the family to avoid going to Court.
If your child is taken into foster care, you will usually still see them. The local authority has a duty to organise reasonable contact between the child and the parents or carers, and the social worker cannot stop your contact without a good reason. The local authority would need a court order to stop you from having reasonable contact with your child for more than 7 days.
The local authority always has to consider whether there are any family members who can provide care for children who cannot live with their parents. The local authority will need to undertake some assessment of you to make sure that you are able to look after the children and meet their needs.
It is important that you contact the social worker so that the local authority is aware that you wish to look after the child and can start the process.
It is also in your interests to seek legal advice, so that you can be re-assured that all is being done to consider you. Legal aid may be available so please do contact us, to find out whether you are eligible, to arrange an appointment and obtain the benefit of legal advice at this early stage
If you are a parent or a person who shares parental responsibility for the child you are automatically eligible for Legal Aid in Care Proceedings and Pre-Proceedings.
If you are a family member who wishes to be involved in the court proceedings you may be entitled to Legal Aid and you should contact the office where an assessment of your eligibility can be undertaken.
In other types of family proceedings, that are not Care Proceedings, Legal Aid is limited and there is strict criteria that needs to be met in applying for Legal Aid, however we may be able to assist in some circumstances, so please do ask.
This is a court order which gives the Local Authority parental responsibility for the child. If you are a parent with parental responsibility, you keep your parental responsibility, but the local authority can make decisions without consulting you if necessary in the best interest of the child. An interim care order will usually remain in place for the duration of care proceedings. A final care order remains in place until the child reaches 18, or the Care Order is discharged.
An emergency protection order can be made if:
- There is reasonable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if not accommodated by a Local Authority
- The harm must be significant and the circumstances exceptional, leading to imminent danger to the child.
An emergency protection order lasts up to 8 days. It can be extended in exceptional circumstances for another 7 days.
Following the expiry of this order, the Local Authority usually issue care proceedings.
A parent may be asked to sign a ‘Section 20’ agreement. This is where you agree, on a temporary basis, for your child to be taken into foster care. You will usually have signed an agreement prepared by a social worker.
You are entitled to take legal advice on this agreement before you sign it. If you are unsure about anything then always speak to a solicitor first before signing any documentation.
You can withdraw you ‘Section 20 consent’ at any time.
CAFCASS stands for “Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service”. It is staffed professionals with a social work background, but who are entirely independent of the Court and the Local Authority. They make sure that the voice of the child is heard in court. The children’s Guardians are usually appointed from CAFCASS. They will prepare reports for the court, making recommendations as to how the case should progress in the best interests of the child. They will instruct a solicitor to act on behalf of children within court proceedings.
Parental responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, responsibilities and authority which by law, a parent of a child has in relation to a child and his or her property’.
If a local authority is informed that a child in their area could be at risk of suffering significant harm, the local authority must make enquiries to decide whether they need to take action to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare. An assessment, called a s47 assessment should be completed within 45 days of the initial referral.
The matter will then be taken to a meeting where professionals involved with the child, including school, health professionals, police etc. decide whether there needs to be a child protection plan. There is an independent chair for this meeting and parents and carers are invited to have their say.
A child protection plan will then be prepared which sets out what action needs to be taken, by when and by whom (including family members), to keep the child safe from harm and to promote their welfare. Once a child protection plan has been completed, it should be reviewed at regular meetings.
Children can be taken off the child protection plan once there are no more concerns for the child’s welfare.
In essence, we arrange for the transfer of the property from one person to another. This involves carrying out searches to ensure the property is not blighted by such matters as road widening, flooding, mining, or landfills and ensuring that all existing restrictions on the property such as mortgages and obligations, imposed in the case of leasehold property, have been removed. In the case of a sale transaction, your solicitor will ensure that all the queries raised by the buyer’s solicitor are responded to and in the case of a purchase transaction, will raise all the necessary questions relating to the seller’s ownership of the property. On completion of your purchase, your solicitor will arrange for your title to the property to be registered at H M Land Registry.
We will move very quickly but the speed of your transaction will depend on many factors such as how long it takes for your mortgage offer to be available and the circumstances of all the other parties involved in the chain.
We will always do our best to move you as quickly as possible but this will not be allowed to impede the quality of the work we do for you.
In short, No. We will quote you one fee for our professional services and also inform you of the cost of the disbursements.
Often these firms offer cheaper ‘up front fees’ but there are usually substantial hidden fees that greatly increase the real cost, i.e. Additional separate charges for acting for a lender, if you are obtaining a mortgage and for completion of the Inland Revenue Stamp Duty Land Tax Form.
It is important to bear in mind that Solicitors have many years of legal training and expertise and in addition, this Firm is proud to be a member of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) which is the Law Society’s sign of excellence.
Yes, we meet all of our clients and client care is of paramount importance. You will be able to contact the person dealing with your case by telephone or email.
If however you are out of area and it is not convenient to meet with us at our offices, we can correspond by post, email and all other modern forms of communication. We act for clients in all parts of England and Wales.
Because, modestly, we offer an unsurpassed service committed to client care, speed and excellence and we are members of the specialist Conveyancing Quality Scheme.
Under The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, all that is required to start divorce proceedings is for either one or both spouses to file a statement with the court saying that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down and the divorce will proceed.
It will no longer be possible to defend a divorce except in very specific situations eg if you wish to challenge the validity of the marriage.
The new system will apply to both marriages and civil partnerships.
Just like the current system you cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married for a year.
The divorce process is started when either one or both spouses file a statement with the court saying that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down and the divorce will proceed. This is done by making an online application in Form D8 and it being filed at the Applicants regional divorce centre.
All the parties have to do (either on their own or jointly) is to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
Under the process, the party receiving the application will be required to fill in an acknowledgement that they have received the divorce papers and are satisfied with the reason for divorce. It is no longer possible to defend a divorce except in very specific situations eg. if you wish to challenge the validity of the marriage.
The penultimate stage of the process is that there is an application for a conditional decree of divorce. If the Judge agrees the parties are granted a certificate, the couple will then need to apply for a final order of divorce.
It will take a minimum of 6 months to obtain a divorce. After 20 weeks it will be possible to apply for a conditional order and after 6 weeks a final order can be applied for. This alleviates the necessity for the parties to wait vast amounts of time to end their marriage. The parties can however delay the final order to ensure that their financial position is protected as before.
This process applies to both marriages and civil partnerships. A fee of is payable to the Court.
To be eligible, parties must have been married for over a year, the marriage must be legally recognised in the UK, they must state if the UK is the parties’ permanent home or that of their spouse and if the marriage has permanently broken down.
We are able to offer a fixed fee for undertaking divorce proceedings. We charge £750.00 plus VAT together with Court fees of £593.00, for representing an Applicant (the person who applies for the divorce) upon divorce and £400.00 plus VAT for representing a Respondent (the person who responds to the divorce) in respect of a divorce. You may not need to pay for the Court fee or only have to pay part of the fee if you qualify for help with Court fees. Further information can be found here.
However any work with regard to dealing with issues relating to children or finance would be charged separately.
Yes, we can provide advice on settlement agreements. Usually the employer will pay the cost of this advice (or contribute up to a limit) so that you potentially pay nothing to receive the advice.
Since 2014 there has been a requirement to follow the ACAS Early Conciliation process (the ‘EC Process’) before you can submit an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal. You require an EC certificate number before you can submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
You must enter into the EC process within 3 months (less 1 day) from the date of termination. While in the EC process it temporarily stops the clock running on the ordinary limitation period. However, the rules surrounding activation of the EC process and extension to the ordinary time limits are complicated. We can assist you and guide you through this process.
There is a form which you must use to file your Employment Tribunal claim, called an “ET1”. This requires you to complete certain mandatory details and requires you to insert your EC certificate number. If the form is completed incorrectly it can be rejected. Again, we can assist you with drafting and/or filing your claim.
The time limit for bringing a discrimination complaint is generally within three months from the date of the act complained of. You can bring discrimination complaints, for example, a sex/race/disability discrimination complaint, whilst still being employed. There are circumstances in which the usual time limits may be extended, but you should seek specialist advice as the time limits are very strictly observed. Note that if your claim is for equal pay, the usual time limit is six months from termination of employment. You do not need to have left your employment.
All employers must operate a grievance procedure and this will detail the process you must follow. We can advise you on whether it’s worth raising a grievance in the first place, how you should raise it and advice on possible outcomes. The level of support we will provide depends on how much of our help you need. We could, for example, help you write appropriate letters and statements and help you compile evidence to substantiate your grievance and we can assist you with any negotiations with your employer.
Yes, we can advise on process issues and help you know what to expect. All employers usually operate a disciplinary procedure, which is the starting point. If you have at least two years’ service with your employer the employer must follow a “fair” process (which usually involves the employer following its own disciplinary procedure) before they dismiss you. Otherwise you could have the right to claim unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal against your employer.
There is a specific definition of redundancy in the Employment Rights Act 1996. Basically, the business’ requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind has ceased or diminished. This usually means that there is to be a reduction in employee headcount and the work may still need to be performed, but in a different manner. The employer is usually obliged to follow a fair process before implementing a redundancy dismissal, including consultation with the employee (particularly if you have at least two years’ service). If there are other employees doing similar work to you, they should arguably be pooled with you and a selection exercise carried out. If redundancy is confirmed, you will (so long as you have at least two years’ service) receive a statutory redundancy payment. The employer must give you notice of termination of employment. Carvers can advise you on whether the correct process has been followed and if you have any potential claims.
Compensation for unfair dismissal is made up of two elements:
- The basic award; and
- The compensatory award.
The basic award is calculated via a set formula and is equivalent to statutory redundancy pay. The compensatory award is linked to the actual financial loss caused by the dismissal. The maximum compensatory award is currently £93,878 for the year 2022 commencing 6 April. The figure is reviewed in April each year.
On 26 July 2017, the government abolished Tribunal fees. There are no fees to be paid when submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
In employment tribunals, awards in respect of costs are the exception, rather than (as applies in the civil courts) the general rule. Costs do not follow the event. It is only if a party is found to have acted vexatiously or unreasonably in the bringing or conduct of the proceedings, or the claim is misconceived, that a costs award will be made. The tribunal can take into account the paying party’s ability to pay.
Ordinarily we charge for the advice and assistance that we provide. At the outset we will let you know how we will charge and provide an estimate for the work required.
However in certain circumstances we may assist you if you have Legal Expense Insurance (LEI insurance’) to cover your claim, without sending you any bill. If you have an insurance product (e.g. house had insurance) you may have optional Legal Expense Insurance which may cover our legal costs for employment advice. When speaking to us please let us know if you have such insurance cover. We would then check whether we would be able to cover our costs under your insurance, and potentially without any direct cost to you.
If you have children, you will need to make a Will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die;
It may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a suitable Will made;
Unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a Will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner;
If your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a Will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your Will. If you are married or enter into a registered civil partnership, this will make any previous Will you have made invalid.
While you are mentally capable you can choose the people you would like to act on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapacitated.
You can give authority to “Attorneys” to make decisions concerning your PERSONAL WELFARE and/or PROPERTY AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS.
If you make a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”), the Power will still be valid even if you become mentally incapable later on.
No, referral fees are now banned in personal injury matters, since 1 April 2013. Our advice to you is and always will be totally independent.
Yes, such agreements have survived the recent changes to the rules regarding funding of the claim, and the recoverability of certain costs and disbursements, and are in fact, in appropriate circumstances, still one of the most commonly employed means of funding a personal claim.
Legal Notices/ Pricing
We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned about the service we have provided then you should inform us immediately, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.
In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then you can read our full complaints procedure here. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.