Who’s Who of Care Proceedings
Harney & Wells have extensive experience in representing parties in care proceedings. Here is a brief overview of the organisations and people involved.
A Judge is the person who makes decisions in a County Court or Crown Court. You may hear a County Court called a Tier 2 Court.
Magistrates make decisions in Magistrates’ Courts and Family Proceedings Courts. Normally there are three Magistrates who work as a “bench”. This means they make decisions together. You may hear a Family Proceedings Court called a Tier 1 Court.
The part of your Local Authority that deals with all the Local Authority’s services for children. It used to be known as “social services”.
Family Group Conference
A Family Group Conference is a meeting that brings together friends and extended family in a situation where there is a problem in a family, usually involving a child. An independent person called a Coordinator brings the family and friends together.
A Solicitor or Barrister is someone qualified in the law who helps people put their side of the story in Court and in other situations where they need help. Solicitors and Barristers are sometimes called Lawyers.
A Children’s Guardian is an independent person appointed by the Court to work out what the best thing would be for your child. They do not work for the Local Authority. Their job involves meeting your child, meeting you and other members of your family. They may also meet your child’s Teacher, Social Worker and Doctor. They then write a report for the Court saying what they think would be best for your child.
Guardian Ad Litem
Legal matters can be difficult to understand. If the Court does not think that you can make decisions about your case, the Court may decide that you need a “Guardian ad litem” who can tell your Solicitor what to do. A Guardian must ask you about what you want, but must make decisions in your best interests. A Guardian ad litem can only make decisions about what is happening in your court case. When there is nobody else able and willing, the Official Solicitor can act as Guardian if asked by the Court to do so.