Home » Care and Protection of Children Lawyers
Care and Protection of Children Lawyers
Care and Protection of Children is the area of law that focuses on child safety and protection from child abuse and neglect. It is governed by the child protection legislation namely The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW). This area of law involves the Department of Family and Community Services and is heard in The Children’s Court of NSW.
Decisions regarding a child’s health, schooling, welfare and upbringing are generally made by the parents; however, when a family cannot provide adequate care and protection for their children the State can intervene to seek parental responsibility for the children.
ALA Law’s experienced team of care and protection lawyers / solicitors are compassionate and care about the well-being of your family. We know these cases can be difficult emotionally and logistically and work hard to achieve the best outcome for your situation. We strive to keep the wellbeing of your child / children our highest priority.
We offer private representation in this area of law. Please contact us to find out how we can help you.
What is a Child Protection Case?
If there are concerns regarding the safety, health and wellbeing of a child the Children’s Court has jurisdiction to make court orders to protect the child.
Caseworkers within the Department of Communities and are responsible for ensuring the safety of children and can act under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998- external site.
Caseworkers will not automatically remove a child, but try to work with families to alleviative the risk and to avoid removal where possible. However sometimes this is not possible, and they will commence proceedings in the Children’s Court to have Orders made to protect the child initially on a temporary basis and then on a long-term basis.
The parties who have a right to appear in a care and protection case include:
- A representative of the Secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice;
- The parents and their legal representatives;
- Anyone holding a parental responsibility Order previously made;
- The child or young person and their relevant legal representative;
- And any other person who has a genuine concern for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child or young person may apply to the Children’s Court to be joined as a party to the proceedings.
Only parties to the court case will be given information about the court case, such as copies of documents and court results.
The Children’s Court is a closed court -meaning only the parties and their legal representatives are present.
The proceedings are commenced by filing an application at a Children’s Court registry.
Once the application is filed, the proceedings must be listed within three days before a Children’s Court.
All parties should be served with the application, related documentation and a notice of listing advising them when and where the matter is listed before the court.
At the first Court date the Court will usually make an initial order allocating Interim Parental Responsibility to the minister. The matter will then proceed to the “establishment phase”.
In this phase DCJ will need to establish “that at the time of the removal the child was in need of care and protection”. The parties have two options – to agree that at the time of the removal there was a need (you can do this on a without admissions) or the dispute establishment. If disputed the matter will then proceed to an establishment hearing.
Care and protection cases are often adjourned in the early stages of the proceedings to enable the parties to gather information and prepare documentation including issuing subpoenas, for parties to attend a dispute resolution conference and/or for assessments to be conducted.
Once the matter is established”, the proceedings move to the “disposition” phase. This is where DCJ will have worked with the parties and will then prepare Final Care Plans with proposed arrangements on a long-term basis for the child.
If at any stage during the proceedings everyone agrees on what final care orders should be made, then final care orders can be made “by consent”. If final orders are made, this will be the end of the case.
The Court can make many orders for a child under its jurisdiction, but the main type of Orders include:
- Interim care orders
- Orders accepting undertakings
- Orders for supervision
- Orders allocating parental responsibility for a child or young person
- Orders prohibiting an act by a person
- Contact orders
- Orders for the provision of support services and
orders to attend therapeutic or treatment programs
- Guardianship Orders
- Parent Capacity Orders.
The Children’s Court can make one or several of these orders all at the same time.
The team at ALA law work hard to support parents seeking restoration of the children.
The Summary of Proposed Plan (or SOPP) lays out the steps that you need to take and milestones you need to reach to seek restoration for your children.
Once you have addressed each of these, we will then file an application with the Court for restoration. The Court will then consider if you have sufficiently met the SOPP and the position of DCJ and the legal representatives of all other parties and determine if they agree to Restoration.