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plclegal, Barrister
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 8297
Experience:  Barrister at law
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Can you tell me if the Local Authority Child Assessment

Customer Question

Can you tell me if the Local Authority Child Assessment Order can be applied for when an Interim Care Order is already in place? Thank you Mark
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: It's already in proceedings about week 19 of 26 weeks
JA: Family Court normally sits in a local County and Magistrates' Court. Do you know the location of the court? If not, what county do you live in?
Customer: Leicestershire family court
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Not at this moment.
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Good evening and thank you for requesting help with your legal issue, I am happy to assist. The moderators alerted me to your request for help. I am a family law barrister and will be able to assist you.

I will not be able to respond in full this evening, as I have already finished work for the day. I hope that you don't mind waiting for a response until the morning, when you will have my full attention.

Please note that our discussions on this site are for general information purposes and do not create an lawyer-client relationship. It is always recommended that you consult with a local solicitor for specific legal information.

Thanks for your understanding, Peter

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Thank you. If you can respond this morning please. The LA have now made an application for urgent removal hearing based on the Judge stating in the last court order 26 August 2021 that he granted the LA a Child Assessment Order ( this being only the 4th Time one has been used in history since their conception ) which stated if mother does not comply with the CAO instruction to allow LA to take her 3 year old son to an Initial health assessment then for the LA to bring it back to court to so he can say he meets the test for the urgent removal of the child. However Child assessment orders cannot be applied for and granted for children who are already under a care order as her son is (19 weeks into a Interim care order 26 weeks limit in care proceedings) this i need to have clarified but in my research on this extremely rare CAO they are only made at referral stage and made on the basis of 'Suspected' risk of significant harm not 'IS' at risk of significant harm. The current legal aid solicitor is in a state of denial about this and is going along with the LA. This is an extremely serious matter. Thank you Mark
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Good morning, thank you for your patience and the clarification over your specific question.

Child assessment orders are quite rare, as you have stated.

For that reason I went back to the Family Court Practice 'red book' to double check before responding.

The test for s31 orders is "that the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm"

The test under s43 orders is "reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer"

It seems that the ICO in place is an ICO with placement at home, which in itself is also quite unusual.

My view is that the two statutes are not necessarily incompatible. This is on the basis of an ICO at home.

In this context, "is likely to suffer" in s31 and "reasonable cause to suspect the child is likely to suffer" in s43 effectively amount the the same thing. Given that the removal was not sought previously the ICO is in place on the basis of likelihood of significant harm not actual significant harm, or the child would already have been removed.

However, I'm of the view that it was perhaps not necessary for the judge to make the s43 order as under the ICO the LA could have asked for urgent removal in any event on the basis that mother was failing to comply with assessment under the current care plan and the child was likely to suffer harm as a result. The court could simply have endorsed the LA care plan (which presumably included this assessment) and this would have been sufficient.

An ICO with placement at home relies on the cooperation of the parents. Without this cooperation and ability to work with the LA for assessment purposes, including court ordered assessments, the LA will inevitably apply to remove the child. Further, the 26 week timetable is going to be thrown out the window if the delay is caused by the mother's refusal to cooperate with court ordered assessments.

Obviously this is quite technical, but I hope that the explanation clears up why your solcitor is not challenging the LA on this point.

Can I clarify anything further for you?

Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

I didn't hear from you, but I trust that the information provided was of assistance.

Thank you for your enquiry today. I am happy to answer follow-up questions - please do get in touch with requests for extra information or further queries and I will do my best to help you.

Expert:  plclegal replied 5 days ago.

Thank you again for visiting JustAnswer, please do let me know if you have any additional questions in the future. I am also happy to answer any new questions on other topics that you may have, you can request me by putting “for PLCLEGAL” at the start of the new thread. Best wishes, Peter