An Emergency Protection Order has been made, what can I do?
Having a child removed from your care by Social Services
can be a trying time for any person. Often you are at a loss about what to do and who to turn to. It is essential you seek legal advice immediately, and ensure that you understand your rights
and the options available to you.
What is an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)?
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) allows Social Services to remove your child from your care
and grants parental responsibility to the Local Authority. Initially, the order lasts for 8 days but it can be extended for another 7 days
if the Court decides that this is in the best interests of your child.
If a Court has made an EPO this means that the Court is very concerned about your child
and believes that this Order is necessary to protect your child. An EPO is only made when the child is likely to suffer significant harm
unless they are removed to a place of safety. EPO’s are made in urgent situations.
Can I see my child when an EPO is in place?
Sometimes the order will state who can and cannot see the child
. However, reasonable contact is permitted between the child and their parents. The aim of the order is not to deprive you of seeing your child but to safeguard your child
until further investigations are carried out.
Although as a parent you are allowed 'reasonable contact', how long this will be depends on the circumstances. This contact can also be supervised
and is at the discretion of the court. This may seem frustrating and you may be questioning why you cannot have unlimited access
to your child. It is important to remember that Social Services are doing what is within the best interests of your child
and would not order something that would cause them harm.
If it has been less than 72 hours since the EPO was put in place you can apply for it to be discharged
if you are the parent or person with parental responsibility. However, this is on the condition that you were not present during the hearing
at which the EPO was established or you were not given notice of the hearing at all.
If you do receive notification that there is to be court hearing in relation to your child you should contact a Child Care Law Expert
urgently for advice.
If care proceedings have been issued and you are a parent of the child that the proceedings relate to you will be entitled to free legal advice
and free representation at Court.