Mum Helped through Care Proceedings and Gets Kids Back Home

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Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

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A Care Proceedings Case Study - Client Situation

Charlotte (not her real name) contacted our Care Proceedings Solicitors for help when she was told that Social Services were starting court proceedings because of their concerns about her children.

Charlotte had 3 children aged 3, 5, and 7.

Charlotte has been struggling with her mental health for some time and recently things had gone downhill at home. She also started experiencing controlling behaviour and violence from her partner. She felt like she had no one to turn to.

Social Services, who has already been involved with the children, were worried that the they were being exposed to the violent arguments between Charlotte and her partner. They were also concerned that the children were being left on their own for long periods of time and their attendance at school decline. They felt it was clear that the children’s need were not being prioritised.

Social Services felt the intervention provided to date was not working and therefore issued Care Proceedings.Dear Jan, 

My client received several text messages from Grace yesterday, following the social workers visit. 

I understand the social worker allegedly told Grace that a return to either parents care was no longer an option. Grace was told that the only option would be for the girls to move to live with their grandparents’ long term. The father reassured Grace that final decisions have not yet been made, which seemed to settle her. 

We do not want to jump to conclusion and therefore it would be helpful if you clarified what was discussed yesterday. They indicated that at the first Court hearing they were going to ask the Judge to make an interim Care Order, to place her children in foster care.

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How We Helped

A member of our Care Proceedings team met with Charlotte before the first Court hearing. She admitted that she was struggling to care for her children, and that she needed help. But she was really worried about her children going into foster care, even temporarily.

After talking to Charlotte, our team identified a close relative who was happy to put herself forward as a temporary carer for the children. We immediately contacted Social Services to make sure that they considered Charlotte’s relative as the first option.

The social worker agreed to meet with her relative and assess whether or not she could temporarily care for the children and the assessment was positive.

The Court Hearing

At the first Court hearing, the Judge agreed that the children could temporarily live with Charlotte’s relative. The Judge also set a timetable for the rest of the Court proceedings, with a Final hearing taking place around 6 months later.

Over the next few months, Charlotte re-engaged with her mental health team. Things improved a lot when her partner accepted that the constant rowing and fighting couldn’t go on, and he agreed to move out. In fact, he accepted that he had problems of his own which he needed to sort out.

Our Team pressed Social Services to organise a meeting with all of Charlotte’s immediate family members and friends (a ‘family group conference’) to see what support they could offer if the children went back to her care. Many of her family members and friends had no idea of what she’d been going through, and a detailed plan of support was drawn up.

Charlotte also attended the Freedom Programme. It’s a 12-week course for women who have been through domestic abuse. Through the Freedom Programme, she understood the impact of domestic abuse on her and her children. She made some supportive friendships with other women there who had been through similar experiences.

The Outcome

By the time we got to the final hearing, Charlotte had turned her life around.

Even though Social Services accepted that she had made great progress, they felt that it was too early for her children to go back to her care. This was because she was still quite vulnerable, and they were worried that things could go wrong again. Because of this, they wanted the children to stay in foster care and they asked the Court to make a Care Order.

The Solicitor with conduct of the file argued on Charlotte’s behalf that she had made real and lasting changes. He showed that Charlotte now had solid support from her family, friends, and mental health team. She also had a good working relationship with the social worker so if anything did go wrong in the future the alarm would be raised quickly. And her former partner had moved on to a new relationship.

Happily, the Judge agreed, and decided that the children should return home to Charlotte. They put a Supervision Order in place for 6 months.

Charlotte had no problem agreeing to continue to work with the social worker and accepting support and advice when needed.

She was delighted to have her three children back home.

How We Can Help You

When social services become involved with your children and family, they will usually notify you with what is called a ‘Letter Before Proceedings’. If you are contacted by social services, it is important that you are represented by experienced solicitors.

We understand how upsetting and difficult it is to hear that social services are involved, so we aim to take as much of the legal stress away from you. Our expert solicitors are experienced in handling these types of cases, so we can hit the ground running when it comes to fighting your corner.

Simpson Millar can liaise with social services on your behalf to negotiate based on what’s in the best interest of your children. We will also prepare everything we will need for any hearings or meetings, while also making sure that you are equipped for the proceedings.

Our compassionate solicitors will help to secure the best possible outcome for you and your children. Contact us today to discuss your case and we will give you practical legal advice on how we can help you.


Research in Practice. (n.d.). Letter Before Proceedings. [online] Available at:

Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

Areas of Expertise:
Care Proceedings

As a Partner, Children Panel Solicitor and Department Head of our teams of Care Proceedings Solicitors in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds; Patricia represents parents, other carers and children in care proceedings and other matters related to disputes regarding children.

Patricia also offers advice and representation to those seeking protection from or responding to allegations of domestic abuse.

Patricia joined Simpson Millar in October 2018, and has over 20 years’ experience in Family Law, having qualified as a Solicitor in 2001.

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