Care Proceedings: How does the court make its decision?
The court can make a care or supervision order only if it believes that the ‘threshold criteria’ have been reached. The ‘threshold criteria’ mean that:
- your child has been seriously harmed or is at risk of being seriously harmed in the future; and
- this harm is because you have not given your child the care reasonably expected of a parent, or because your child is out of your control.
Harm can include a child ‘seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another’, as well as being ill-treated themselves.
If the court finds that the threshold criteria have been met, it may decide it must make an order because, even if you have been trying your hardest, you still can’t provide the right care for your child.
The court can make an order only if it believes that this will help your child. In most cases, the court will look at whether:
- it thinks that the harm or risk of harm is likely to happen again; and
- you are willing and able to deal with the council’s concerns about your child’s care.
If the court believes it should make an order, it will decide what is in your child’s best interests according to the ‘welfare principle’ and a list of factors known as the ‘welfare checklist’. The welfare principle states that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. The welfare checklist includes things like the child’s wishes and feelings, their age and sex, and any risk of harm.
The court will decide what order to make after considering:
- the council’s care plan; and
- what you and the guardian and any court-appointed expert say would be best for your child.
The order should be the minimum needed to protect your child.
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