A Self Help Guide


This is a working draft by mothers, grandmothers, other primary carers and campaigners determined to stop children in their thousands being taken away from their families arbitrarily, and to stop violent fathers using the family courts to continue their reign of terror against women and children by insisting on unsupervised contact or even residence. It is based on collective self-help which brings together our combined first-hand experience. We hope you will find it useful and strengthening in your struggle to protect your children. We welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Special thanks to barrister Sally Barnett, whom we met when we worked together to stop the removal of a newborn from his mother’s breast – social workers and police were outside the hospital waiting for a court order. The child remained with the mother and is a growing, healthy and happy boy. Sally took the time to read an earlier draft of our Guide, fill in gaps and correct inaccuracies. Thank you, Sally!

The Guide has changed and expanded a lot since, so mistakes and views can only be attributed to us.

Thank you to Sarah Durham for the layout aimed at making the Guide easy to read.


Introduction – what you are up against 

Section 1. Top TIPS 

Section 2. The laws 

Section 3. What can I do if Children’s Services become involved with my children? 

Section 4. Can I get help from Children’s Services? 

4.1 How do I apply for help: Section 17; Child in Need 

4.2 Can I get help if I am disabled? 

Section 5. What happens if my child is put on Child Protection? 

5.1 What can I do if I’m accused of harming my child? 

5.2 What if I’m accused of fabricated & induced iIlness (FII)? 

5.3 Top TIPS – Child Protection 

5.4 Challenging a Child Protection Plan 

5.5 Core Group Meetings 

5.6 Child Protection Review Conference 

Section 6. What can I do if Children’s Services are taking me to court? 

6.1 Top TIPS: Section 20 – DO NOT SIGN 

Section 7. Emergency proceedings 

Section 8. Problems with lawyers 

Section 9. Care Proceedings: how do I defend myself and my child/ren? 

9.1 First hearing – Case Management Hearing/ Directions hearing 

9.2 Contested Removal Hearing 

9.3 Issues Resolution Hearing 

9.4 Fact finding Hearing 

9.5 Fact finding for medical cases and non-accidental injury 

9.6 Final Hearing 

9.7 Top TIPS – Giving evidence in court 

9.8 Possible outcomes from a final hearing 

Section 10. Can I appeal against a care order? 

Section 11. Can I stop my children being adopted? 

Section 12. Can I have contact with my children in care? 

12.1 What is a LAC Review? 

Section 13. I am a victim of rape/domestic abuse: can I get help? 

13.1 Can I get an injunction? 

Section 14. Going to court about residence or contact with child/ren

14.1 First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDHRA) 

14.2 What happens if the court orders a fact-finding hearing?

14.3 Top TIPS: Scott Schedule 

14.4 Final Hearing

14.5 Ongoing disputes over contact or residence 

Section 15. What can I do if I’m accused of “parental alienation”. 

Section 16. Can I ask for a different judge? 

Section 17. Breastfeeding – what can I do to protect my child’s right to breastfeed? 

17.1 What can I do if I’m being threatened with my child being taken from me while breastfeeding? 

17.2 What can I do if the father is insisting on overnight or extended contact while my child is still breastfeeding? 

Appendix 1: Template for Subject Access Request

Appendix 2: Sample Scott Schedule

Appendix 3: Which form do I need for court?

Section 21. End notes



Support Not Separation
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews
Kentish Town

Email: SNS@legalactionforwomen.net

Telephone: 020 7482 2496