The phrase ‘pre-proceedings’ is not something most people have ever heard of. When an expectant parent, or existing parent, is handed a letter before proceedings, the first thought is one of panic and confusion.

What is a pre-proceedings meeting?

Pre Proceedings are entered into when a Local Authority has concerns in relation to the care that a child is receiving – the aim of this process is to try and avoid going to Court, and the Local Authority social worker, and a team of professionals, will try to work with the parents to assess your needs, and identify support that can be put in place to avoid such proceedings.

How do I know the Local Authority are initiating the pre-proceedings process?

The Local Authority will provide you with a “letter before proceedings” which you should take to a solicitor immediately. The letter will cover the Local Authority’s concerns, details of the pre-proceedings meeting, a summary of what support is being provided and what you as a parent need to do to avoid the matter being presented before the Court.

How long does the pre-proceedings process last?

The pre-proceedings process usually lasts around six months, however, this can be shorter or longer depending on the progress being made by the family.

Can I get funding to instruct a solicitor?

Yes, here at Ringrose Law, we can sign any parent subject to the pre-proceedings process up to ‘Legal Help’ which enables us to provide you with advice, attend any pre-proceedings meeting and liaise with the Local Authority on your behalf.

What happens at the meeting?

You will be invited to attend a meeting together with your legal representative. The social worker will also attend with their legal representative, who will set out the Local Authority’s concerns. At the meeting, the Local Authority may ask you to engage with certain things – such as a psychological assessment, a parenting assessment, or even alcohol and drug testing – depending on the concerns.

If you have been provided with a letter before proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact me so that we can sign you up to Legal Help, to enable us to assist you in this process.

Contact Amy Farrell on wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk or call 01522 561020.

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