As a law firm which specialises in matters of family law, we never lose sight of the fact that, at the heart of any legal dispute, there is an intensely human drama being played out. We understand that many people come to us during the most traumatic events of their life – a divorce, a death in the family or a complex financial issue – and that, as lay people, they find the prospect of dealing with the law more than a little daunting. This is particularly the case when we act as social services solicitors.
We understand the stress that the involvement with social services can place upon any family, from the child involved, through the parents and onto any siblings or the wider family circle. This is often caused by a misunderstanding of the various roles played by social services, of the powers they have and of the approach which they take to working with families. Our first role as a social services solicitor is to explain clearly what legal issues are involved in any case, in a manner which is simple to understand and completely transparent. We do this by combining thorough legal expertise and a knowledge of the latest developments in the law, with an empathetic personal approach. We understand that the anxiety caused by contact from social services can often make it difficult to take on board exactly what their concerns are, and we act as social services solicitors to find this out, and to pass it on in a form which can be easily digested.
In many cases, the social services department of a local authority will become involved with a family because of concerns around the safeguarding of a child or vulnerable adult. One of the things which we emphasise to anyone who comes to us as social services solicitors is that the social service department will always have the welfare of the family in question at heart, and will want to work with that family – and their legal representatives – to find a solution which makes the family unit stronger rather than weaker.
Many people come to us, for example, because they immediately assume that interaction with social services will automatically lead to them having their children taken away from them. We’re able to explain that our experience as social services solicitors has taught us that this is very rarely the case, as a social services department will regard separating a child from a family as an extreme measure which is rarely applicable. We’ll also point out that a child has to be at risk of harm for the court to issue an order for it to be removed. In some cases, the police might take a child into ‘protective custody’ following contact, and then apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order. This will probably only happen in the most extreme cases, however, and if such an application is made, we’ll act as social services solicitors to explain exactly what your rights are and how you can present your version of events.
We appreciate the fact that anyone who comes to us seeking advice on dealing with social services is, by definition, bound to have the interests of their child at heart. Working with a local authority to reach the best possible solution might involve dealing with issues such as child protection orders and care proceedings. These are complex legal matters which require a combination of expertise and sensitivity. We also guarantee the quickest possible response, enabling us to respond to emergency situations and provide the kind of expert channel of communication between our clients and social services which can help to stop the situation escalating and start the process of finding the best outcome for all concerned. Even something as simple as explaining the kind of jargon often used by official bodies and translating it into plain English can help to put our clients at ease and lessen the sense of apprehension so often felt at the mention of social services.
If you need the services of social services solicitors, or just have an inquiry about possible contact, please get in touch with us on 0161 429 7251 or by email at [email protected] The initial 20 minute appraisal can be carried out free of charge, in person or over the phone, while a Fixed Fee first appointment costs only £50 (Plus VAT). Legal Aid is often available for clients, to find out if it would be available to you please contact our solicitors. For more information on our wider funding options, please see the information here.