Putting children and young people first in the family courts

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I disagree with the local authority's plan for my child: Cafcass' role

 

If you do not agree to your child being adopted it is important that you get advice from your solicitor.  You should let the court, Cafcass and the local authority know about your objections.

 

What is a placement order

 

If a local authority is seriously worried about the safety and welfare of a child and they want to make decisions about that child, they will need to apply to the court.  These are called care or supervision proceedings.

 

The local authority social worker will carry out some investigations into the child’s welfare and suggest a care plan.

 

If they feel adoption is the best option for the child, the local authority will apply for a placement order.  A placement order allows the local authority to place a child with suitable adopters, even if the parents do not agree.

  

What will Cafcass do

 

If the local authority applies for a placement order for your child the court will appoint a Cafcass worker.  The Cafcass worker will be known as a Children’s Guardian.  It is their job to represent the interests of your child in court.

 

The Children’s Guardian will make a recommendation to the court based on what they think is best for your child.

 

If the placement order application is made during care proceedings, the Guardian already appointed will be the Guardian in the placement application.

 

Who decides

 

After listening to everyone involved in the case the judge will make the final decision.  This will be based on what they feel is in the best interests of your child.

 

What happens next

 

If the court makes a placement order, this means the local authority can place a child with a new family

 

The final step is then for the prospective adopters to apply for an adoption order.  They have to wait until the child has been living with them for at least 10 weeks before they can apply.

 

Once an application is made, both the birth parents and the adoptive parents will be told the date of the adoption hearing, where the court will decide whether to make the adoption order.

 

Birth parents can only oppose an adoption order at this stage if the court gives them specific permission to do this.  

 

The court will only do this if it can be shown that

 

    • there has been a change in circumstances since the making of the placement order, and

  • it is in the child’s best interests for the adoption application to be opposed

 

An adoption order cuts all legal ties between an adopted child and their birth parents, and creates a new legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. Once an adoption order has been made it cannot be reversed by the court.

 

Contact with children after adoption

 

After an adoption order has been made the court will decide whether it is appropriate for the birth parents to have any contact with or receive any information about their child.

 

The court can make an order specifically preventing any contact between the child and certain people. 

 

The Children’s Guardian may make a recommendation to the court about what they think is best.  Any decision will be based on the best interests of the child.

 

Legal advice

 

Adoption can be a complicated process and you should seek legal advice at the earliest stage possible.

 

Depending on your circumstances you may qualify for help meeting legal costs, find out more about legal aid.

 

Citizens Advice also provides information on getting help with legal costs.

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