Do I have to agree to my children being removed from my care?
A section 20 agreement is governed by the Children Act 1989 and is a tool that most Local Authority’s will use. A section 20 agreement is a voluntary agreement signed by those with parental responsibility (usually both the mother and father of the children) and sets out terms and conditions that the Local Authority wish to impose upon the family. Possible conditions are that the child is placed in Local Authority foster care or with an alternative family member with the parent’s approval. A section 20 agreement should only be in force for a short period of time to allow the local authority to take the next steps required to safeguard the child.
The Court have ruled that section 20 agreements must only be used for temporary periods of care, as it has become apparent that councils are ignoring judicial guidance and imposing section 20 agreements for extensive periods of time.
In a recent case a 10-year-old girl was kept under a section 20 agreement for a shocking 13 months before the council started care proceedings. It was held that this prevented the child from having a fair trial and a right to family life. The child was also deprived of a children’s guardian due to the lack of care proceedings and could therefore not have her own views expressed.
This agreement being in place for a staggering 13-month period also meant that the child was failed by the council in establishing contact with her family.
If you are unsure as to the consequences of a section 20 agreement or feel that one has been in place too long, do not hesitate to contact Levin’s solicitors for professional advice. We can also advise you if the Local Authority want you to sign a Section 20 agreement but you are unsure whether you should or not. You do not have to agree to a Section 20 agreement.
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