Social Services

We are experts in representing parents and family members in cases where social services are involved with your family.  These are known as public law proceedings, care proceedings, and can include applications for care orders, supervision orders, and emergency protection orders.

Brighton and Hove specialist care proceedings lawyers act for parents and grandparents in children proceedings and care proceedings in Brighton and Hove, West Sussex (Arundel, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Littlehampton, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey, Shoreham-by-Sea, Steyning, Worthing) and East Sussex (Battle, Bexhill-on-Sea‎, Crowborough‎, Eastbourne‎, Hailsham‎, Hastings‎, Heathfield, Lewes‎, Newhaven, Rye, Seaford, Uckfield‎, Wadhurst‎, Winchelsea‎) child law specialists.

Special Guardianship

Our specialist child care lawyers are considered the best child care proceedings solicitors in Brighton Hove, East and West Sussex.

We can advise about special guardianship in care plans where the local authority.


Social Services are involved with my family  – Do I qualify for legal aid?

Any parent of a child/children who are asked to attend a Meeting Before Action with social services will qualify for legal aid automatically. Parents who have a child/children who are the subject of care proceedings issued at the Court will automatically qualify for legal aid. If you have been asked to attend a case conference for you.  If you are a grandparent or other family member then you may qualify for legal aid and can discuss with us all the options.


Our Brighton & Hove Childcare Proceedings Solicitors have unrivalled expertise in this field of practice. We act for parents, (and other family members) and our child care specialists include members of the law society children panel the family law panel and are resolution accredited specialists.

We are highly experienced in representing clients in cases concerning the local authority (social services).  Social services can become involved with the family where there are child protection concerns and these situations can be very worrying for the parents and children. Often the process can be confusing upsetting and at times frightening – we can offer non-judgemental expert advice and representation.  It is really important that you have someone that specialises in this area of law that you can trust to help you understand the process, reduce the stress involved and ensure the best possible outcome for your family.  All individuals in our child care proceedings team have been practising in the specialist area of child care law for more than 15 years have decades of combined experience.  

Our offices are in Poets Corner in Hove, but our child care proceedings solicitor advocates act for clients in Eastbourne, Worthing, Lewes, Burgess Hill Sussex, Hailsham, Seaford, Hastings, Uckfield, Croydon and all the remaining towns in East and West Sussex. We can travel to see clients where necessary and can attend court on your behalf or arrange representation through specialist barristers if that is your preference.


When the local authorities social services decide they need to get involved with the family to keep their child safe then they may ask parents to attend what is known as a case conference or a meeting before action. If you receive a letter from social services saying that you need to attend a meeting for action you need to get legal representation straight away. When social services are concerned about the welfare of a child and the local authority consider that a child is at risk of significant harm they may decide to start a court case. This sort of case is called a public law case or care proceedings the local authority can apply for a care order or a supervision order which will mean that the council have parental responsibility for your child. At the start of care proceedings, the council asked the family court to make what is known as an interim care order and the council can take a child into care on a temporary basis for up to 8 weeks. This interim care order can be renewed every four weeks after the initial period. This order can only be made if the court is of the view but there is a good reason to think a child is at risk or maybe it’s a bit serious risk of harm when social services apply for print interim care order they have to prepare a care plan which sets out where the child should live until the final hearing in the court case the must be reviewed regularly and will outline what the views of the local authority are.

It can take up to 26 weeks for a court to decide what should happen to a child in care proceedings. In some complex cases, it may take longer. Often in care proceedings, all the family members will be talked to, parents may get support, and experts may be honest too undertake assessments and write reports to the court to inform the court as to possible risks around the children remaining with their parents or being permanently removed from their care.

This is a specialist area of law and needs to be dealt with by a  family solicitor who specialises in care proceedings. Brighton and Hove law has a highly experienced specialist child care team who are able to deal with these kinds of cases including representation at court. Brighton and Hove law advocates can represent parents throughout the care proceedings including providing comprehensive reliable advice before court proceedings are issued.  Once court proceedings have been issued we can advise throughout and provide actual representation in the court hearings. If a  case is sufficiently complex sometimes it may mean a very senior type of barrister known as Queens Council needs to be involved. Brighton and Hove law has extensive experience and expertise dealing with all types of care proceedings including cases where the council alleges, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and where there are allegations of non-accidental injuries against the child.

The local authority has duties to safeguard children.

Sometimes the local authority can issue court proceedings at very short notice Brighton and Hove law can deal with next day hearings and ensure matters are dealt with efficiently and professionally. Brighton and Hove Law are experts in cases where the local authority apply for emergency protection orders. Our specialist team of child care legal professionals will ensure that your interests are represented and the welfare have any children is prioritised. The team at Brighton and Hove law who represent parents in these kinds of proceedings our specialists’ lawyers and legal executives and highly experienced professionals having practised in this area of law for more than 15 years. At Brighton and Hove law we pride ourselves on being able to provide advice empower clients and ensure that each case is presented in the best possible manner. The recent cases that our specialist child care proceedings solicitors have been involved with can be viewed here.

If you are a parent in care proceedings you will qualify for legal aid and we will ensure that this is obtained quickly for you so that you can access free representation and understand your rights at the earliest possible stage. We truly understand how traumatic a family crisis can be and how daunting the process can be when social services are involved in children’s lives. we have a longstanding reputation in this field and have excellent relationships with court judges solicitors barrister’s experts and social workers. We treat it saves him welfare of the child other priority and our experienced court advocates and I equally able to represent you in court or work with a specialist barrister’s our aim is to help you resolve matters positively and ensure families have the right support that they may need in order to care safely for children all clear sound legal advice will ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family. we will contact social services on your behalf can attend scheduled meetings and advise you in respect of any s20 agreement you may be asked to sign

When will the local authority make an application to take children into care

the types of concerns that may trigger a local authority to apply to the court include neglect (neglect involves ongoing series of failures to meet a Charles needs and can include not giving the child enough to eat or drink not keeping the child clean not taking a child to school not giving the child enough to eat or drink not taking the child to see a doctor or a dentist or other medical professionals not keeping the home in a sufficiently warm not keeping the child in a  sufficiently warm clean home

Abuse is when a social worker is worried the child has been or is likely to be abused by either or both parents or other people who are known to the child. Abuse can mean physical abuse so physically hitting or hurting a child, female genital mutilation,  giving a child harmful substances such as poison alcohol or drugs.

Sexual abuse when a child is forced/coerced/tricked to take part in sexual activity with other children or adults.

Emotional abuse when a parent behaves in a way but will have a negative effect on a child’s emotional development including continual shouting severe criticism I’m witnessing domestic abuse.

What happens in care proceedings

The court will try to make a decision about what should happen to your child within a 26-week time frame during these six months. Many people including family members and professionals will try to understand the reasons why your child may have been alleged to be at risk and will be looking at what can be done to keep them safe. Cafcass will be appointed as a children’s Guardian to the child. See Cafcass’ role in care proceedings.

If the court makes a final care order the legal effect is that the local authority has parental responsibility for the child and essentially the local authority can act as a parent:

Parental Responsibility is defined in s 3(1) Children Act 1989  Children Act 1989 (  as being:

“all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.

The term ‘Parental Responsibility’ attempts to focus on the parent’s duties towards their child rather than the parent’s rights over their child.

Possible outcomes in care proceedings

If you are a parent in this situation the earlier you seek advice from our specialist child care lawyers the better. Ring 01273 311 630 or mobile TBC

If after the final hearing the court determines that abuse has taken place then the  outcome for a child will usually be either  the child :

  • Going home safely  – if parenting improves or the risk is reduced
  • Going home subject to a supervision order
  • Going to live with another relative within the extended family
  • Going to live with a foster parent
  • Going to live in a children’s  home or secure unit
  • Being adopted