Legal Eagle: Help needed to see children

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A couple of years ago my children were removed from my care and after a court hearing they were placed in long term foster care. I was having some problems with my partner at the time who was violent towards me and I was drinking heavily. I have now left that partner and settled down in a new area. At the end of the court hearing I was told I could have contact with the children at least 6 times per year and the children could write to me. Recently the local authority have been cancelling this contact and I haven’t seen my children for nearly a year. Is there anything I can do to make sure this contact takes place?

Where children have been removed from the care of a parent and placed in long term foster care the local authority have a duty to promote contact between the parent and those children. This is why at the end of the case in court you were awarded some contact by the court and the local authority should do all they can to ensure that this contact takes place.

It may be necessary at times to rearrange this contact for example if the children are unwell etc. but this should be rescheduled so that you do not miss out. As children get older contact can sometimes become difficult as their wishes and feelings may change. However this should be something that the local authority work with the children on and they should continue to promote this contact.

If the local authority are being unhelpful in this contact happening then there may be something a solicitor can do to help and because the matter is to do with involvement from the local authority you may be entitled to some free legal advice. The first action to be taken would be for a solicitor to write to the local authority on your behalf to remind them of their duty to promote contact and to outline the missed contacts so far. If this is not successful then it may be possible to bring proceedings to enforce this contact and the local authority would need to consider what work they have done and what work needs to be completed with your children to enable this contact to take place.

Contact with children in care can be difficult for both parents and children. It is important that contact is positive for all involved and it is important that you continue to work with the local authority.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Family Solicitors who can advise you on issues with childcare and the Local Authority. To speak to a specialist Solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.