Anyone been called to court before?

(8 Posts)
DwellsUndertheSink Tue 07-Jan-14 20:41:41

Im a foster carer, my LOs are on an ICO and final case due soon. Ive been notified today that I'm on a list of witnesses that the parent's legal team want to call to court.

Has anyone had to do this? Im a bit anxious about it. Not been in court before, and have visions of blokes in wigs twisting words and making one look unreliable....

What sort of thing might they ask? what can't they ask?

lovesmileandlaugh Wed 08-Jan-14 14:58:07

I think it is worth getting in touch with the fostering network as I think they can support you and provide representation if needed. (I think!) Good luck!

floatyjosmum Wed 08-Jan-14 16:28:06

This happens now and again. Your social worker should attend with you.

Have you been given any indication what they want to ask you about? Usually the local authority solicitor has an idea.

LadyPenny Wed 08-Jan-14 18:14:02

My LA do a training course on FCs attending court. I did it a few years ago and found it very helpful.
Maybe yours do it.

NanaNina Thu 09-Jan-14 19:42:52

I think you need to talk to your social worker about this as you shouldn't be expected to go into this without knowing something of the details. The social worker will have meetings with the LA solicitor who will be presenting the case on behalf of the LA in the court at the final hearing. You should ask if you can be a part of these meetings, or at least have some idea of what the LA solicitor wants to cover with you.

What happens is that the LA will call witnesses to help to prove the case for the LA, i.e. that whatever Order the LA are requesting is in fact granted by the Judge. SO the solicitor might want to ask you something about how the child was when he was placed with you - sometimes children are afraid of the bath or of other things and foster carers are the ones to notice things like this. It may be that the birthparents have said something to you that needs to be brought out in court. The LA solicitor will ask you about whatever it is, but the difficult bit is that the solicitors for the birthparents will cross-examine the witnesses, which means that they will question the evidence that you have given, and some of them will try to twist what you are saying.

I don't think however that any solicitor for the birthparents would "go in too hard" with a foster carer as you are not an expert witness (like the social worker/psychologist/guardian etc) and they would lose credibility with the court to try to treat a foster carer as an expert witness.

You need to answer any questions honestly, and if you don't understand a question, then say so - don't let anyone rush you. Remember Kiss (keep is short keep it simple!) Having said all that if you are called (and you might not be) then you probably will feel intimidated as social workers often are too in the court arena. But you must get some idea of what issues they want to ask you about, so you can be prepared. You can only be cross examined on whatever the LA has asked you about.

scarlet5tyger Thu 09-Jan-14 20:57:50

Good advice from Nananina, but the OP states that its birth parents legal team who want to call her. I know a few FC who have been asked to present evidence on behalf of the La (usually just written statements or log books though) but haven't heard of anyone being called for the birth parents side.

Regardless, I think Nananina's advice still stands - you need to know why you are being called and what issues are going to be raised.

NanaNina Fri 10-Jan-14 19:51:30

Ah I didn't read the OP properly. Sorry. I think this is more problematic because the foster carers are contracted to work for the LA and I think OP you should get their advice as soon as possible. I think it the LA solicitor might contact the solicitor for the parents and find out why you are listed as a witness, and if possible what the details are - I wouldn't do anything without the knowledge/advice of the LA legal advisor.

DwellsUndertheSink Fri 10-Jan-14 22:34:54

thanks nana, and everyone, I appreciate it.

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