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What are interim care orders?

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If a local authority considers that a child living within their area is at risk of significant harm, they can apply for a Care Order or an Interim Care Order (ICO). These proceedings are known as Public Law proceedings. Usually, the local authority will become involved with your family before they initiate Court proceedings. It’s crucial to obtain legal advice at the earliest stage you can, from a specialist family lawyer.

What is an interim care order?

An Interim Care Order gives the local authority shared parental responsibility for a child.

An interim care order results in the local authority acquiring parental responsibility for the child and being in a position whereby they can, with the Court’s agreement, determine the arrangements for the care of the child concerned, including where they should live (whether with a parent or in foster care) and what contact they should have with their parent(s) and other family members.

The details of the arrangements will depend on the circumstances.

An interim care order is used to protect a child and enable further assessment. They do not prejudge the outcome of the main care proceedings; they’re a neutral position. The aim is to secure the child’s safety whilst the court establishes the full picture and considers a resolution.

What do interim care orders mean for parental responsibility?

Typically, a child’s parents will have parental responsibility; a mother acquires this at the birth of the child and fathers automatically have parental responsibility if they’re married to the mother or appear on the child’s birth certificate. This responsibility confers all of the rights and responsibilities that come with bringing up a child on those that hold it.

As is stated above, under an interim care order, the local authority also acquires parental responsibility for the child and shares this with the parents for the duration of the order. The local authority and the parents must discuss decisions, but in the event of a disagreement, the local authority has the final say, acting as is necessary to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

How long do interim care orders last?

An interim care order is a temporary measure, initially lasting for a period of 8 weeks.

After the first 8-week period the order is kept under review and, if necessary, the court can extend it for further periods of 28 days. There’s no limit on how many extensions can be made.

Can you challenge an interim care order?

Interim care orders should only be made in the most serious cases, to protect a child from risk of significant harm.

If a court has made an interim care order in relation to your child that you don’t feel is best for them, you have the right to challenge this decision. You may be able to appeal if you think the judge was wrong or something was incorrect. You may also be able to apply for the interim care order to be discharged in some situations.

Time limits for an appeal are important so it’s key to seek legal advice from a parental dispute solicitor quickly. You can do so by contacting us and one of our family law specialists will be able to assist you.

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