Discharge of care order
When a Final Care Order is made the local authority share parental responsibility for a child and can make decisions about them, such as where they live, until they turn 18. A Care Order can be made with a plan for a child to live in long-term foster care or with other family members or in the care of parents.
If a parent/carer feels as though they have made the necessary changes to be able to care safely for a child they can apply to the Court to discharge the Care Order. Alternatively, an older child who is competent, can sometimes apply to discharge a Care Order themselves if they are old enough and mature enough to do so.
Once an application to discharge the Care Order is made, the Court may decide that the parents need to be re-assessed to show whether they can safely look after the children and what changes they have made since the Care Order was made. The Court’s concern will be the child’s welfare.
Revocation of placement
A Placement Order is a court order authorising the local authority to place a child for adoption with any prospective adopters it chooses.
It continues until it is revoked, the child is adopted or reaches the age of 18 years.
A Placement Order suspends an existing Care Order, Section 8 Order, Section 34 Order or Supervision Order.
Placement Orders can be revoked but it is difficult to do so.
The child or the local authority can apply for the Placement Order to be revoked.
Others need permission from the court and may apply only if the child has not already been placed.
If there is also a Care Order it is reactivated if the Placement Order is revoked.
If the court revokes the Placement Order, the child must be returned to local authority care of the care of parents within a time determined by the court.
In case of no adoption placement taking place following a Placement Order or the adoptive placement breaks down, either the local authority or any party can apply for the Placement Order to be revoked.
There is a two-stage test in order to revoke he placement orders -
1. There needs to be a change in circumstances.
2. If there has been a change in circumstances the court will then consider the welfare of the child, this will include referring to the welfare checklist contained as s (4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
Leave to oppose adoption
The test of leave to oppose adoption and leave to revoke placement are similar.
Oppossing an Adoption Order
Once a child has been placed for adoption the parent may oppose the adoption with the permission of the Court. The Court determines whether permission should be granted on a case by case basis. This is called asking for ‘leave’ to oppose the adoption.
The Court may give permission to the parent to oppose the making of an adoption order if it is satisfied that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances since the placement order was made.
There are two stages to the test. Firstly, it needs to be determined whether there has been a change in circumstances. If there has been a change in circumstances, should the court exercise its discretion to allow the parent/parents to oppose?
Whether or not there has been a change of circumstances depends on facts.
The courts will look at the welfare of the child/children when making a decision to grant permission to oppose an adoption order. Even if a parent is able to identify a change in circumstances, the courts priority is the welfare of the child throughout their life.
Contact with children in care
It is possible to make an application to have contact with children that are in the care of the local authority. Whether this is possible will depend upon the facts of each individual case taking in to account all considerations.
You can apply for Legal Aid in relation to the above applications, but this is assessed on your likelihood of success of the case as well as your financial situation.
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