How Long Does It Take to Discharge a Care Order?

How Long Does It Take to Discharge a Care Order?

Facing a care order can be a daunting experience, especially when it results in your child being placed under the care of the local authority. If your circumstances have significantly changed since the care order was made, you may be considering applying to discharge the order. Understanding the process and what it entails is crucial. Our care solicitors at the National Legal Service are here to guide you through every step, ensuring you have the best possible chance of success.

What is a Care Order?

A care order is a legal directive issued by a family court following a formal application, typically by a local authority. The process to obtain a care order usually spans around 26 weeks, although it can take longer in certain cases. During this period, several interim orders or arrangements may be put in place before reaching the final decision. When a final care order is issued, it means the local authority shares parental responsibility for the child. They are required to consult with others holding parental responsibility on matters related to education, health, and religion, but they retain the ultimate decision-making power regarding the child’s welfare.

Applying to Discharge a Care Order

If you believe your circumstances have changed significantly since the care order was finalised, you can apply to the family court to discharge the order. This involves demonstrating that the issues and concerns that led to the care order have been resolved. Evidence to support your application could come from various sources, including agencies working with your family, therapists, or a GP.

An application to discharge a care order can be made by the local authority, the child, a parent, or any other person with parental responsibility. The process begins with the completion and submission of a C110A form to the family court. There is an associated fee, which must be paid unless you qualify for legal aid or a fee remission. Our specialist solicitors can advise you on your eligibility for free legal advice during your initial consultation.

The Legal Process

Once the application is submitted, it will be served on the local authority and other individuals with parental responsibility. A children’s guardian will be appointed and the court will then invite all parties to comment on the evidence provided to support the claim of changed circumstances.

Timing and Duration

It’s generally unlikely that an application to discharge a care order will be considered meritorious within the first year of the order being made. Proving a significant change in circumstances within such a short period is challenging. After a reasonable amount of time has passed, and an application has been made, the duration for the court to decide on discharging the care order can vary. Each case is unique, and the process could take weeks or months, influenced by the position of other parties and the sufficiency of the presented evidence.

There may be delays if the court requires additional evidence to support the claim of changed circumstances. In such instances, further hearings and assessments may be necessary to determine whether the child would receive appropriate care if returned home. This thorough examination ensures that any decision made is in the best interest of the child.

Our Expertise

Navigating the complexities of discharging a care order requires expert legal guidance. At NLS, our team of specialist care solicitors has extensive experience in handling such cases. We understand the emotional and practical challenges involved and are committed to providing clear, compassionate, and effective legal representation.

Our family law and care departments include members of the Law Society’s Children Panel, the Family Law Panel, and Resolution Accredited Specialists. These accreditations reflect our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of legal practice and our commitment to achieving the best outcomes for our clients.

Legal Aid and Costs 

Legal Aid Eligibility and How to Apply

Legal Aid can provide financial assistance for those who qualify, ensuring access to legal representation regardless of financial situation. Eligibility for Legal Aid is determined based on income, savings, and the merits of your case. Our care solicitors can help you assess your eligibility and guide you through the application process.

What to Expect in Terms of Costs

If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, we offer fixed fee structures to provide transparency regarding the costs involved. Our solicitors will discuss fees upfront, helping you plan your finances and focus on resolving your case without worrying about unexpected legal expenses.

What We Offer with Legal Aid

At NLS, we are one of the UK’s largest providers of Legal Aid family law services. Our team is dedicated to supporting and representing clients facing social services involvement. We strive to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcomes for your family.

The Importance of Professional Legal Support

Having someone you can trust to help you understand the legal process and provide clearheaded legal representation can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety associated with care proceedings. Our team of specialist solicitors is dedicated to ensuring you receive the best possible legal support, advocating for your rights and the best interests of your child.

At NLS, we recognise the impact that care proceedings can have on families. Our approach not only addresses the legal aspects but also provides emotional support to help you. If you are considering applying to discharge a care order, we encourage you to contact our expert team at the National Legal Service.

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