On the 1st July 2013 a revised Public Law Outline was introduced where care cases are involved, this will be superseded in April 2014 by the final version. The change reduced the length of a care proceedings cases from an average of 50 weeks to a mere 26 weeks.
The average care application is now being completed at just over 30 weeks, compared to double that two years ago. By halving the time a case takes in court means that the child is saved an extra 6 months less in limbo. The child at this point is then placed in Foster care with carers, adopted or placed back with the parents.
What about where a Placement Order is made and no placement is available for the child?
The children will join the 4,000 plus children on Placement Orders who still don’t have permanent carers. This then means that the speed in which the family Courts turn a case around will have little positive effect on the children. If their cases remain uncertain or if they stay stranded in a long drawn out court case, or in a short-term placement with no permanent placement in sight, this can unsettle children and have a negative effect on them whereby they lose their sense of hope and trust
It is important to note however that our justice system within family Courts have replaced a culture of delay within the Court arena to one of urgency. However 26 weeks is still a very long time in a child’s life, but not anywhere near as long as previous timings for care proceedings.
One important point to note is that when parents are issued with a letter before proceedings they sometimes ignore it until the day before Court. As soon as you have a letter before proceedings it is essential you seek immediate legal advice.
For further information or to speak to one of our experts in Family Law contact one of our family team at our offices in Lincoln, Boston, Grantham, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.