If a child has suffered an injury and has been taken to hospital, sometimes the doctors are worried how these injuries may have occurred. In these situations, the injuries are usually called non-accidental injuries; Social Services may be concerned that you are not looking after the children properly, that they are being neglected or suffering physical, emotional or sexual harm. If you are using drugs or alcohol, there may be concern about your ability to parent the children and if you have an abusive partner, there may also be concern that the children are witnessing or suffering violence.
“Anyone with children will know that they can suffer cuts, bruises and other injuries very easily through play, rough and tumble, and a host of other means – and how these have happened are often an absolute mystery to their parents. The idea of being accused of harming your child is a nightmare scenario for parents, but unfortunately it can become a painful reality if a child has cuts, bruises or other physical injuries that cannot be explained.”
Peter Ash, Partner
How can We help?
At Nash & Co we have specialist solicitors; members of the Law Society’s Children’s Panel who represent parents and children in care proceedings. If your child is taken into care, we can help you to understand what will happen next. We will use simple terms to explain what is happening every step of the way; how your child will be cared for and what rights you and your child have. We can also accompany you to meetings and represent you if the case goes to court.
What happens in Court?
Parents accused of inflicting non-accidental injuries may have to defend themselves against charges of child abuse while their child is taken to live with relatives or taken into care. However, in most situations, Social Services will try to work with families to avoid them having to go to Court. You may have received a letter from them stating that they are going to start ‘pre-proceedings’ and you will be advised to take this letter to a solicitor immediately. This is the step before Court proceedings; it must be taken seriously and it is important that you have legal representation during this process. If Social Services are not happy with the progress that you are making, they might start Court proceedings and we try and help you to avoid this from happening.
What should I do now?
If you are sent Court papers, you should contact us immediately and tell us the date of the meeting so that we can arrange to attend with you. If you are a parent of the child you will be entitled to free legal advice and representation (Legal Aid). Legal Aid may also be available if you are a relative of the child depending on your circumstances.
We know that childcare cases can be very distressing to all concerned. The thought of someone taking your child away from you is frightening and worrying even if the people involved are doing it because they think it is best for the children.