Taking a child away from their home is a very serious step and is often the last resort after other interventions have been put in place, or in extreme circumstances it can occur when a child is believed to be at immediate risk of harm. (Harm is not limited to physical harm but can be emotional and sexual harm).
It’s often thought that social services can easily take a child, but that isn’t the case. It typically is something that takes place only when no other course of action is suitable in certain circumstances.
The role of social services is predominantly to protect children from living in danger/neglectful environments, so they will always put the best interests of the child before anything else and will only choose to take action when they believe that a child is not receiving adequate care from their parents.
In this article, we’ll be explaining some of the main reasons why social services may apply to the family court to remove a child from his/her home, as well as helping you to understand your rights if you have been threatened to have your child taken away from you.
What reasons can social services get involved?
There are many reasons that a child may be removed from the family home, and is usually due to level of care being shown to the child being below “good enough” standards by the parent/s or guardian.
Some of the most common reasons for a child to be removed may include:
● Abuse—emotional, physical, or sexual
● Medical neglect
● Death of parent/guardian
● Serious illness of parent/guardian
● Incarceration of parent/guardian
Can social services take my child away without evidence?
No, there must be evidence in support of the application from social services when they are asking the court to remove your child/ren from your home.
Social services will usually have any complaints and concerns about your parenting reported to them first and then they will investigate these claims—if you’re able to evidence that these claims aren’t true, the investigation will end, and no further action will be taken. It is important to get legal advice as soon as social services become involved, even if you think it is a low level assessment. Things can escalate quickly and you need to be sure of the type of assessment being carried out and of the expectations held of you to avoid court proceedings.
If the application raises concerns that are severe enough that social services has grounds to believe your child is in imminent danger if there is any delay, they may apply to remove your child from you and then carry out further assessments during the course of the court proceedings. Even those applications are evidenced (by details of the initial referral and an initial statement from the social worker); so you will know the reasons why the application is being made.
In the most serious cases, the police have powers to remove children from their home and take them into police protection pending the local authority issuing an application to the family court.
Can social services take my child if I have depression?
Having depression is not a reason in itself for social services to take your child away from you.
However, if your depression affects your ability to parent your child and/or prevents you from being able to meet their basic needs, then you could face a court application if there have been referrals made to social services as to the impact of your depression on your ability to care for your child.
Are you able to get your child back at home if removed by social services?
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to have their children taken away from them. If you find yourself in this situation, you will naturally want to know how you can get your returned to your care.
Unless your child was quickly taken away in extreme circumstances, you were probably involved in some child protection meetings, where social workers investigated the care you give to your child and whether you were meeting their needs. This is your first opportunity to demonstrate that you can care for your child, therefore putting a stop to ongoing investigations.
You will also be notified if social services are planning to apply for a Care Order, so you’ll have time to talk to a solicitor and get expert legal advice about what you can do to keep your child.
Remember that although your child’s best interests will be the priority of both the courts and social services, you still have the right to share your views and have them taken into consideration.
In the situation where your child has already been taken away from the family home, we recommend seeking expert legal advice. A specialist family solicitor will be able to advise you of your rights and guide you through the process of challenging the courts and gathering evidence to show that your child is safe living with you and should be returned to your care.
We’re here to help
At National Legal Service, we understand that having a child taken away from you can be an extremely stressful time, but you don’t have to battle it alone.
Our expert team of family solicitors is here to help you every step of the way. We’ll support you as you work to get your child back home and can make the process far simpler and quicker than if you were to try to go through the courts by yourself. Legal Aid is available for court proceedings relating to care proceedings (when social services have applied to remove children from their family).
If you’d like to have a discussion with us about how to get your child back and they’ve already been removed by social services, call us on 020 3601 5051 for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.