Will I have to pay for a solicitor if social services are involved with my family?
If social services are concerned about the care of your child/children, you may be entitled to be represented by a solicitor for free. There are four levels of social services intervention, these are explained below along with the eligibility criteria for free legal representation. If you are eligible for legal representation your solicitor will provide you with free legal advice, help you to understand complicated documents and reports and will attend meetings with you.
Child In Need Plan
A Child In Need Plan is a voluntary package of support for families put together by social services. A Child In Need Plan is the lowest level of intervention and therefore parents are not eligible for legal representation at this stage.
Child Protection Plan
Parents are eligible for legal representation when a Child Protection Conference is arranged subject to a means and merits assessment. We will complete this assessment for you along with the paperwork necessary to obtain funding for your legal representation. You will be eligible for free legal representation if you are in receipt of a passporting benefit such as Universal Credit and you do not own capital such as investments and/or property exceeding £8,000. If you or your partner work, we will complete an assessment of your financial circumstances to establish if you will qualify for free legal representation.
If you receive a Pre-Proceedings letter from social services for a child you hold parental responsibility for you will automatically be eligible for free legal representation throughout Pre-Proceedings.
If social services make an application to Court to begin Care Proceedings for your child you will be eligible for full legal representation throughout proceedings including representation at Court hearings by a solicitor or barrister. We will make an application for legal aid on your behalf to ensure you are represented by a specialist child care lawyer who will represent you and help you to understand all aspects of proceedings such as assessments, reports and paperwork.
At Mander Cruickshank Solicitors we provide families with expert legal advice and representation at each stage of social services involvement. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01530 510 666 to discuss your case free of charge.
Written by Jessica Stafford