In circumstances where the local authority are seriously concerned about a child’s welfare and safety and are unable to resolve these concerns with parents, then they will likely issue care proceedings. The interests of the child are at the core of any decisions that are made for the child’s future including where the child may stay immediately or in the future or who they may spend time with. If you are legally represented in care proceedings as a parent your interests will be represented giving you a voice in court so that your wishes will be heard. But what about your child?
This is where the role of the Children’s Guardian is essential. The Children’s Guardian will usually be from Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service CAFCASS (or they may be self-employed), have a social work background and be highly experienced in working with families and children.
The main role of the Children’s Guardian is to represent your child’s interests and give them a voice in the care proceedings process. They will carry out investigations talking to all relevant people and agencies to enable them to build up a full understanding of your child’s needs.
A Children’s Guardian may also be asked to become involved in private law children matters. For example, where parents are unable to agree on contact arrangements for their children and issue their own proceedings in court. In these circumstances the Children’s Guardian plays the same role as above, representing the interests of the children and ensuring that their wishes and feelings are not lost in what can be lengthy and difficult proceedings.
The Children’s Guardian is completely independent from the court. Any recommendations that they make to the Court, are with the aim of putting forward the best interests of your child, and this is very helpful to the Judge in assisting them to make the right decision for your child.
At Lyons Davidson our specialist and nationally recognised family team are instructed to represent all parties in family proceedings including parents and children through their Children’s Guardian. If you require representation or would like advice on any legal matters relating to children, please contact us on 0117 904 5715 to speak with our family team.