Frequently asked questions for fathers
Fathers and Care Proceedings
My children are subject to care proceedings. Will I be involved? Will the court seek my views on where my children should live?
If you are a father with parental responsibility, you will be automatically be a ‘party’ to the proceedings. If you are a father without parental responsibility, you will receive notice of the proceedings but you will not automatically be made a party. As a party you will normally receive all the court documents and you will be notified of all the court dates. If you are not automatically a party you will be given notice of the first court hearing date only. You may attend that hearing and you can ask the court to make you a party. After that you will be asked to make a statement and will be able to give evidence and say what you think. You will be entitled to public funding (legal aid) to pay your solicitor's fees.
Can my daughter come and live with me or someone in my family?
You will need to explain in your statement your proposals for where you want your daughter to live, what support there will be in place and how that will best meet her needs. You will have a chance to explain this further at the court hearing when you give evidence.
If your relatives want to be involved, they should:
- make contact with the social worker to express their views about what is best for daughter and let him/her know how they may be able to help in providing support or care.
- Ask the social worker refer them for a family group conference to consider what plans would be best for your daughter and in the circumstances. A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a decision-making process in which the whole family gets together to make plans and decisions about a child that will safeguard and promote their welfare. It offers parents and other family members a chance to sort out any problems and find safe solutions, with professionals only involved in part of the meeting. It is therefore a chance for you, your daughter's mother and both your families to actively make a safe plan for your daughter. For more information abour family group conferences click here.
- Ask the social worker to assess them as a carer for your daughter. If the local authority refuses to assess them, then they should consider applying to the Court as early as possible to ask for a direction that they be assessed. They should never wait until the end of care proceedings to do this - they need to sort this out early, even if it is still not clear whether your daughter can return to live with her mother or yourself.
- Become involved in the court proceedings if they want to take on the care of your daughter and there is no agreement with the local authority. They can apply to be a party themselves and they can apply for a residence order or a special guardianship order.
If they do apply to court, they will not have the same automatic entitlement to free legal representation that parents in care proceedings have so they may want to contact Family Rights Group for advice about their options.
You should also ensure you consult your solicitor about what they can offer as part of your case.
For further advice see Family Rights Group sheet on Care Proceedings and on Reuniting children with their families from local authority care.
The local authority has formed a view of me which I believe is unfair. How can I arrange for me and my family to be assessed?
This can be very difficult. You can explain your view to the judge and ask if you can instruct and independent social worker to do an assessment of you and your family and then call that person to court to explain what s/he thinks. You can also explain your view to the child's guardian who is there to assist the court to make a decision about what is best for your child. The judge will then look at all the evidence and make a decision about what s/he considers to be in your child's best interests.
For further information on care proceedings read here.