What is a Guardian and why are they involved in proceedings concerning children?

    What is a Guardian and why are they involved in proceedings concerning children?

    The Local Authority may issue care proceedings when they have concerns that a child is at risk of significant harm.

    Examples of neglect Examples of abuse
    Failing to take the child to see a doctor or dentist when they need to be seen Physical abuse
    Failing to keep the child clean eg dirty clothes or failing to bath Emotional abuse
    Failing to provide the child with food and drink Sexual abuse
    Failing to take the child to school to meet education needs  


    If the Local Authority decide to issue care proceedings as a result of any of these concerns, a Guardian will be appointed.

    What is a Guardian?

    When the Local Authority starts Court proceedings, a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) officer will be appointed. A CAFCASS officer is also known as the Children’s Guardian.

    A Guardian becomes involved in proceedings to represent the child’s best interests.

    The Children’s Guardian will appoint a solicitor. The solicitor is therefore acting on behalf of the child.

    It is important to note that the Children’s Guardian is independent from social services.

    What does the Guardian do?

    The Guardian’s role in proceedings is to ensure that the child is safe and to make sure that any decisions being made regarding the child are in their best interest. They ensure that proposed care plans by the Local Authority protect the child and promotes their welfare. If they disagree with Local Authority plans and assessments, they will propose alternatives to the court.

    To assist them in making recommendations to the court, the Guardian may speak to a number of people involved with the child, which may include;

    • Child
    • Parent
    • Person with parental responsibility
    • Wider family members
    • Friends of the family
    • Schools
    • Health professionals
    • Any other person the Guardian thinks is necessary.

    The Guardian may inform the court about the wishes and feelings of the child where the child is old enough to express their views.

    The Guardian will outline the options available for the child and may express their professional opinion about what is in the child’s best interests to promote their welfare and protect them from any harm.

    A Guardian may be appointed in private law proceedings between parents regarding the arrangements for their child in relation to where they should live or what time they should spend with the other parent. Such cases may include;

    • Where the case is complex
    • Where the child’s interests cannot be put forward by either parent
    • Where there is an intractable dispute
    • Where an older child opposes the plan for them
    • If there are unusual or complex mental health or medical issues
    • Cases involving international complications
    • Where there are serious allegations of physical or sexual or other abuse allegations


    More information

    Our specialist Child Care Team offer legal advice to parents and family members involved in care proceedings with the local authority. Should you require any assistance, please contact our Child Care Team on 01935 424581.


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