Children and Families Act 2014 - ParliamentThe Children and Families Act  2014

The 22nd April 2014 was a red-letter day in the world of Family Law. The date saw the enactment of “the most far-reaching child welfare legislature to be considered by Parliament in decades”: the Children and Families Act 2014.

The aim of the Act is to give “greater protection to vulnerable children, better support for children whose parents are separating, a new system to help children with special educational needs and disabilities, and help for parents to balance work and family life” and will also ensure that “vital changes to the adoption system can be put into practice, meaning more children who need loving homes are placed faster” and “reforms for children in care can be implemented including giving them the choice to stay with their foster families until their 21st birthday.”

The 22nd April saw, in addition to the new Act, the establishment of a unified Family Court, simplifying the extant system whereby family proceedings may have been heard by county courts, Magistrates’ courts or the High Court.

But what effect do there changes have upon those who are fighting to keep their families together?

A comprehensive series of articles at our parent site, Brendan Fleming Solicitors, will cover the effects of this new single Family Court and this new Children and Families Act.

Please note that while we have made every effort to ensure that all information on our websites is accurate and up-to-date, these new changes are sweeping and comprehensive. We cannot therefore guarantee the accuracy of any articles predating the changes unless we have clearly marked them as having been updated to align with the new legislature.

When the unthinkable happens….

When your family is torn apart….

When your children are taken from you and placed into care….

To whom can you turn for help?


Brendan Fleming Speaks at the Stop Forced Adoption Conference

Brendan Fleming was recently a guest and speaker at Justice for Families’ Stop Forced Adoptions Conference, held locally at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute. His address gave both legal insight into Family Law and invaluable advice to the audience.

Alongside Brendan spoke other stalwarts in the fight against injustice in the Family Law arena including John Hemming MP; Christopher Booker, columnist for the Telegraph; and Denise Robertson of ITV’s This Morning.


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A National Firm where the Client is King

Brendan Fleming Solicitors have won an unparalleled reputation for their innovative approach, spearheading new ways of securing justice for parents whose children have been wrongfully taken into care by Social Services.

We passionately believe that in most cases it is to a child’s benefit to be raised in their own home by their natural parents; and that being taken into care can be harmful both to the child and to the family as a whole.

We offer a confidential hotline in order to help assist you straight away. 24 hour support is provided to help you keep your family together now.


If your children have been taken into care, if you don’t already have a solicitor, and if you need immediate help, advice and support, Brendan Fleming Solicitors can help you, wherever you are, nationwide, on a right-now basis:

We Never, Never represent the local authorities or the Social Services. We work exclusively for parents, for families, and for the benefit of their children.

We promise a rapid response to your request for advice. Those accused of criminal offences are entitles to 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week legal service. We think that parents should have the same service. For that reason, we are available every day of the year; and we are willing to work around the clock when necessary to try and get children reunited with their families. And, rest assured, we will do everything in our power to help you and to keep your family together.

Our office is staffed by people who have years of experience with what you are going through.

We can help with all aspects of your care case: no matter whether it is a contact dispute with Social Services, Emergency Protection Order, Interim Care Order or Police Protection Order. We will be able to explain what is happening and how best to deal with the situation at any point in the whole proceedings.

Whether you need emergency legal advice or just someone to talk to, call us or fill out and send in the form: it’s free and it’s confidential and we promise to give you the best impartial advice and services to get your family back together.

And remember, for your benefit, and that of your children and your family, it is best to call us as early as possible so we can minimise the potential time you may be separated from your children.

Please Note: This is a free advice service but in no way substitutes for the sound legal advice of a solicitor in possession of the full facts of a case. If you have your own solicitor who is briefed on the proceedings, please contact them for assistance. This is an emergency service provided for parents without their own solicitor whose children have been, or are about to be, taken into care by Social Services for such reasons as Emergency Protection Orders or Interim Care Orders.

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Care Proceedings-Testimonials-Thank-You

  • “Brendan Flemings were my solicitors from and I couldn’t have wished for a more pro-active, professional team. Brendan himself was so reassuring during what was often a very stressful time of my life. My sincere thanks to him and all of his team.

    “I have children who are, in the main, happy and well-balanced, now with children of their own. I am proud of them all and none of it would have been possible without you. Thank you.”

Our client, Ms H.

  • “What can I say? ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough.

    “If anyone had seen this case at the beginning, they wouldn’t have touched it, as I didn’t stand a chance of winning. Your hard work, commitment and support over the last year led to such a result: my little man settled and happy with his nannie.

    “I can never thank you enough, Anne. You are a truly amazing lady whom I have had the priviledge of meeting. Don’t ever change (or change jobs). You have made such an impact in our lives; and on the lives of others, I am sure. Again, thank you.”

Our client, Naomi

  • “I have had my 5 children removed from me. The day I came to Brendan Flemings for help, I passed out outside the office. I was in a very dark place and felt that suicide was my only answer. Today, because you listened to me, because you believed in me and because you supported me, I am now a far cry from the woman who first walked into your office. I have a positive outlook and I am thinking in terms of ‘when I have my children back.’

    “I know I have a fight in front of me but now I know I have someone in my corner who believes in me, which makes all the difference.”

Our client, Ms B.

  • “We have been exchanging e-mails with Denise Robertson from TV’s This Morning, who holds Brendan Fleming in the highest esteem. We sent several e-mails telling her of our situation with our 3 children being taken into foster care. She was very supportive & understanding of our circumstances.

    “As a result of her help, Brendan took on our case at a very late stage, when no other solicitors were willing to proceed with matters further; and for that we cannot thank him enough.”

Our clients, Mr & Mrs J.

  • “This is to thank all the members of your firm that have helped over the last few years. You are all fab at your jobs, from Faye right through to Brendan. You have put my mind at ease at every stage of the procedings. Well done and THANK YOU for getting my son home. It is something neither I nor my family will ever forget.”

Our client, Emma and family

  • “I heard about Brendan Fleming Solicitors through my family support at my son’s nursery. I cannot thank you enough for putting an end to the court case: it had been going on way too long until you took over. Your company is fantastic.”

Our client, Kelly

  • “I would certainly recommend any parent who was having difficulty with parental access to contact Brendan Fleming Solicitors. They dealt with my case with care and a great understanding of what was needed. No stone was unturned.”

Our client, M.M., Solihull

  • “I approached Brendan Fleming because my previous solicitor was losing my case. Brendan kindly took the case on and since that day I have felt like a heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders. He gave me hope that my children would be returned home and has been nothing but the complete professional. He has travelled from Birmingham to the South Coast to represent us and I totally understand why so many people recommend Brendan Fleming: he truly is one of the nice guys. I would recommend Brendan Fleming to anyone going through the situation that we have. Our whole family are eternally grateful to Brendan, what a guy!!”

Our client, K.R., West Sussex

  • “I came to Brendan Fleming Solicitors after speaking to a friend at my Sikh Gurdwara. I was devastated because my previous solicitor was losing my child. They didn’t care about my case and kept avoiding my calls. My friend told me to go to Social Services in Sandwell and they told me that the best practice by far is Brendan Fleming Solicitors and that they are scared of his name because he wins so many cases.

    “Mr Fleming representing me put a big smile on my face. He is the best person ever and he is a god to me. His advice was phenomenal, sophisticated and untouchable. He made me almost certain my girl was coming home. You need your solicitor to support you and Brendan does that.

    “Brendan didn’t hold back in court and challenged the case with style, class and professionalism. Brendan got the case thrown out of court and now I have my daughter home. Without Brendan, I wouldn’t have my kid and the previous solicitor said it would take 6 months. It took Brendan no time at all. I would recommend Brendan to the world: I would pay to have a sign promoting him put up outside my house.

    “I am proud to have had a solicitor like Brendan Fleming. I have had experience with solicitors before and none of them compare to him. I would give him one million stars. He is the best of the best.”

Our client, Mr Singh

  • “Brendan, you should be proud of yourself. Due to your professionalism, my son is at home. God bless you all. I am so happy now, thank you.”

Our client, M.C., Bromford

  • “Brendan is extremely good and helpful. Thank you so much for getting our kids home.”

Our client, L.H., Stechford

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  • “I am so confident in Dawn and Brendan. Every day I speak to them, I believe more and more that, one day soon, my daughter will be back home with me. They are very passionate about their jobs and I would recommend them to anyone as solicitors. I owe them so much already. They are fantastic.”

Our client, Faye

  • “Dawn is truly a wonderful person, she has gone the extra mile for me and my children; she is always at the end of the phone, anytime of day or night; and has worked relentlessly to get my children back home to me. She always made me feel hopeful and is a complete professional and warm human being. Dawn arranged an Independent Social Worker Assessment which was in our favour, for which I cannot thank her enough. I know that it is only due to Dawn and Brendan, along with the work that we have done as a family, that my children are coming home. I am so happy!!”

Our client, K.R., West Sussex

  • “Dawn is absolutely fantastic. I would never have got so far without her and now I am really close to getting my daughter back. I would not be where I am now without Dawn and Brendan. Dawn works every hour God sends to help your case. I keep recommending them to other people in my situation. Keep up the good work!”

Our client, Faye

  • “You have done so much for me and been there whenever I needed to speak. I have included a picture of my daughter which you can keep if you like as reminder of how happy you have made her mummy and how happy I am that I decided to go with your firm. Thank you so much, Dawn. There will never be enough I can do to repay you.”

Our client, Sarah

  • “Dawn, I can’t find the words to express how I feel about what you have done for my family. I can’t thank you enough. If only I knew than what I know now: that the most important thing is to have a good solicitor. And you are the best: I never would have got my boys back if it weren’t for you. I have learned so much in the short space of time in which you represented me. Thank you till the end of the numbers.”

Our client, Alison and family

  • “To Rebecca and Indy, thank you for your kind help and support. You really helped me through a stressful time and now my child and I are going to have a great life together.”

Our client, Christine

  • “Lucy and Mr Green, thank you. You helped give me and my children our lives back; and we are all grateful beyond words.”

Our client, Elizabeth

  • “I’d just like to say how brilliant Mark is and how impressed I am. I’m amazed that he sorted in five days what my former solicitor hadn’t handled in sixteen months.

    “You were recommended to me by my Family Support Worker; and now I’d recommend you to anyone else. If I ever need a familily law solicitor again, I’ll be round to see Brendan straight away.

    My son and I are now both safe. We have a new life. I can’t thank you enough.”

Our client, Kelly

  • Without Mark, my children wouldn’t be here today. He has always been there; nothing is too small. He will always ring me back, any time of day, if I call. He is so supportive and reassuring and is much more helpful than Social Services. I wish I could give Mark a medal. He makes feel comfortable in court. He is brilliant. He goes above and beyond what he is expected to do.”

Our client, Kathleen

  • “Brendan and Mark, thank you for everything and all the support and advice you have given me over the months…. My family and I are so happy to be back together, thanks to your help.”

Our client, Paul

  • “Michael was excellent, 100% reassuring. Without him, I wouldn’t have got my kids back.”

Our client, Sarah

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Baby_PWhat is yet more tragic is the legacy that this affair left in its wake – the so-called “‘Baby P’ effect.”

The Baby P effect is the pendulum swing that has occurred in the attitudes and behaviour of the Social Service when it comes to babies and children manifesting injuries.

That case was mismanaged when Peter was repeatedly seen by Haringey Children’s Services and NHS health professionals over an eight month period, during which time he sustained over 50 injuries. At no time was he taken from his mother. No Care Order was issued. Nothing. He was allowed to return home each time, eventually to his death.

The case became very high profile, with child protection services of Haringey and other agencies subject to wide criticism for their fatal failure to execute their duties and responsibilities. As a result of the incident, three inquiries and a nationwide review of social service care were launched.

The actions of Social Services have swung from one extreme of neglect to the other of over-caution. Unwilling for there to be any repeat of the Peter Connelly case, children are now regularly removed from their parents custody when they have suffered bona fide accidental injuries.

This reaction may prevent a repeat of the tragedy; but it replaces it with the tragedy of broken families, torn apart on flimsy, inconclusive evidence and “expert” opinion as testimony.

As just one example, in a recent case following a single hearing, lasting no more than a quarter of an hour, during which the parents were not allowed to challenge the “evidence” of an expert witness, a judge ruled that 3 children must be taken from their parents and placed into care. The reason, because the medical expert testified that bruising on one child could possibly have been caused by “pinching.” “Possibly.”

Mr Justice Thorpe stated regarding this case, “I am completely aghast at this case. There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter. Once you lose a child it is very difficult to get a child back.”

It is understood that Social Services are trying to avoid another human tragedy; however, what is being overlooked are the lesser-publicized human tragedies that occur when children are taken away from their parents when they are in no danger, when there has been no crime commited and when misinterpretation of the facts has given rise to a misdiagnosis and an injustice.

Where you have found yourself in a situation like the above, have been accused of inflicting non-accidental injury, have had Care Proceedings initiated and have had your children taken from you, do not waste a moment, contact us on our help line immediately.

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“… many innocent people are being wrongly accused of child abuse and whose lives in consequence are being turned upside down without due justification….

“Children are made to live in constant fear of being parted from their parents.
The climate is like that of a witchhunt in which the voice of reason and all sense of proportion is lost.”

– Earl Howe, House of Lords, “Child Abuse”, Hansard 17 Oct. 2001

It can begin with the injustice of an accused parent not even being faced by his or her accusers; not given the real accusation and so not able to confront it.

Part of the injustice is the admissibility of hearsay in cases of child welfare. As established by the Children (Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence) Order 1990, “In civil proceedings before the High Court or a county court, evidence given in connection with the upbringing, maintenance or welfare of a child, shall be admissible notwithstanding any rule of law relating to hearsay.”

The injustice continues, whereby even if a Family Proceedings Court rules that there has been no wrongdoing, the child remains subject to a Child Protection Plan, effectively “black listing” the parent from that point onwards.

So how can you, as a parent fight back in the face of this injustice?

The advice of one parent, you need to choose a good solicitor:

  • One who is willing to pro-actively fight for your rights;
  • One who is expert in the fields of Family Law and specifically Children’s Proceedings;
  • One who recognizes the importance of sensitivity, tact and thoughtfulness being shown to those looking for help and guidance.
  • One who is working for you and your family, not for the local authority;
  • One who understands that children are better brought up by their natural parents and family.

And the other word of advice, from solicitor and expert in Family Law, Brendan Fleming:

You only lose your kids if you give up on your kids.

Keep going. Keep positive. Eventually you will be rewarded.

We can help you right now – do not wait, for your free family support & advice!

Use the below form for an almost instant response:

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A family in the Midlands found themselves in the hands of the Social Services following a referral. An initial assessment was made and it was found that the family home was in such an unhygienic state that care proceedings were undertaken. A care order was issued and the children were removed from the family home.

The parents immediately addressed the situation, cleaning the house and getting rid of the numerous pet cats that had contributed to the scene. As a result, the care order was lifted and the children were allowed to return.

This, however, was but the beginning of the nightmare.

With the birth of another son, the family was told that they must move into a residential care unit and undergo an assessment to prove that they were worthy parents.

In an artificial environment shared with nine other families, they were made to follow directions on how to raise their child, even when these directions were clearly upsetting to both child and parents. They had to endure this for a period of six months.

Finally the family was allowed to return home.

And still it wasn’t over.

In early 2009, one of the sons made an allegation that he had been punched and kicked by his father.

Based on this single unsubstantiated report, the children were once again taken.

The father has no criminal record and no history of violence toward his partner or his children. Of the five children in the family, no others were questioned with regard to domestic violence. And yet, with no further investigation, the children were taken.

Over the following year, through many assessments and conferences, and through the work of a good solicitor, the children were returned to their parents.

Then one year later, it happened again.

One of the daughters had a mark on her neck. She told a teacher at nursery that “Mummy did it. Mummy hates me and wants me dead.”

Based on this one statement, the children were taken into care that very day.

It has taken the ongoing work of solicitors throughout the year to return all but one of the children to the family home by this time.

And now the parents are forced to operate on a basis of near paranoia, ensuring that the children go to school or nursery without a hair out of place for fear that social services will seize the opportunity to again seize their children.

But how did it come to pass that for the slightest imperfection, such serious consequences could be brought to bear?

“Historical concerns” the social workers term it. Once a child has been made subject to a Child Protection Plan, then they are viewed as at risk from thereon out.

So even in a case such as this where the initial care proceedings were based upon an unhygienic family home, any referral of any kind to the Social Services is acted upon unthinkingly. Based on hearsay, there is no burden of proof – the parent is very much presumed guilty until proven innocent.

We can help you right now – do not wait, for your free family support & advice!

Use the below form for an almost instant response:

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Another illustration of the breakdown of the system comes from another Midlands family.

Following a referral and an assessment, the daughter was taken from her parents under a seventy-two-hour child protection order due to “emotional abuse.” The father was described as “aggressive,” had “anger problems,” “alcohol problems” and “drug problems” and a “history of domestic violence against his wife.” Yet there was no evidence of an alcohol problem, a drug problem or any history of domestic violence.

And the basis for this?

The unsubstantiated report of a neighbour.

The findings from the initial assessment, as given verbally to the family by both the social worker and support worker assigned to the case, were that they were a happy and loving family.

However in court, the social worker’s report as submitted was against the family. As the support worker still reported in favour of the family, further “evidence” was required to bring the case to bear.

The “evidence” was a report of ninety-eight house calls by the police to the father’s previous address to investigate domestic violence.

The police reports of these house calls were not produced for the court.

When asked by a solicitor if the police reports of these call-outs had been studied by Social Services, the answer was “no.”

And what was found when the reports were produced? No incidents of domestic violence against wife or child. The reports were of other, disrelated incidents: a smashed window, a fight in the street outside, someone suspiciously loitering outside in the street, and so on.

With this revelation, the case was won and it was ruled that the child was allowed to go home with the parents. However, when the parents came to collect their daughter from Social Services, they would not release her as they “needed permission” – despite the findings of the court.

This continued until later that evening when the parents were called back into the court to answer new “evidence.”

This time, the fact that the child had said, “Mummy’s mouth bleeds when she brushes her teeth.”

This was offered as evidence of abuse.

The truth was that the mother had a gum infection. She had been to the dentist previously; but due to her pregnancy, there was little that could be done to treat the mother’s condition – she couldn’t have x-rays or be prescribed anything for the infection. The infection would have to be addressed once she had given birth.

Again, all of this was documented.

Again, in answer to the solicitors enquiry as to whether the evidence had even been studied, Social Service’s answer was “no.”

Once again, the Social Service’s case was thrown out and this time, at about midnight, the parents were allowed to collect their child and go home.

In spite of the complete lack of any evidence of wrong-doing, the family is now forced to endure the continued scrutiny of social services. They are to be monitored and supervised and told how to bring up their child.

And their only crime? To have been reported to the social services on suspicion of emotional abuse of their child – the groundless, unsubstantiated, accusation of a neighbour.

We can help you right now – do not wait, for your free family support & advice!

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When anyone tells Social Services this, the local authority must decide, within one working day, whether or not they need to check up on you. If the answer is yes, a Social Worker is told to make an initial assessment. This assessment must occur within ten working days of the initial referral.

This might happen casually, with a Social Worker “popping in for a chat” or it might be by appointment in your home.

But no matter how “casual” this assessment, from that point, you are involved in a Child Protection Investigation. This meeting is written up on a record that goes permanently on file about you and your children.

The result of this meeting with you can be “No action taken” but you are unlikely to get an apology or thanks; and you need to check that the file that stays with Social Services is accurate as it can affect your child’s future.

Matters can go further and Social Services decide to hold an ominously-entitled Section 47 Enquiry (named for section 47 of the Children Act 1989), carrying out a core assessment.

If the core assessment deems that the child is at continued risk from significant harm, a child protection conference will be convened.

Depending upon the findings of the child protection conference, it may be decided that care proceedings are necessary to keep the child safe. “Care proceedings” is the term used to describe the legal process by which Social Services ask the court whether or not a young person should go into care.

Here it is decided whether or not the child should be made subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Care proceedings are usually held in the Family Proceedings Court.

This court is also responsible for awarding emergency protection orders whereby a child may be removed from his or her home for up to eight days.

The court may issue a care order giving local authority parental responsibility for a child – either fully or in part, shared with the parents – and the care plan for the child will be implemented. Depending on the circumstances, the child may continue to live at home, be placed in the care of other members of the family, foster care or a children’s home.

In that the core governmental guidance on how agencies should co-operate in child protection, Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-Agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children (DCSF, 2010), emphasises “the importance of keeping the focus on the child and his or safety and welfare, understanding the daily life experience of the child…and using information about the family’s history and functioning to inform decision making,” where does it all go wrong? Where does the system break down?

We can help you right now – do not wait, for your free family support & advice!

Use the below form for an almost instant response:

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