The stages of care proceedings

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 09:28:30 PM
The aim of recent government reforms in 2014 is to speed up care proceedings. There are now three stages in the court process;
Stage 1 the application is issued by the local authority (LA) and allocated to the appropriate court. This takes 2 days.

Stage 2, an Advocates Meeting (meeting with the lawyers, social worker and guardian) no later than day 10 to accommodate the Case Management Hearing (CMH) on day 12.

Stage 3 must be no later than 20 weeks from the date of the application and is called the Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH). This is no longer a directions hearing but instead a genuine and informed attempt at resolving issues. The hope is that some cases can be agreed at this hearing.

If you can not agree the best way forward at the IRH, the court will find some dates for you to come back for the Final Hearing, this is where the court hears evidence from all the parties and makes a final decision.
You may be asked to decide how long you will need for a final hearing at the time of the case management hearing, which is pretty early on In the timetable and it may be impossible by day 12 to know how this case will pan out by day 140. Your lawyer will do his/her best to get a suitable timetable.

The LA must produce a numerous documents with its application, including genograms and a chronology, and there will be further documents not necessary disclosed but which can be requested. All must come to the Advocates Meeting ready and able to set out precisely what the case needs in terms of any further expert analysis, to have identified the necessary experts and found out how long they would take and how much they would cost.

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