A care or supervision order can only be lawful if the court satisfies a two stage test.

The first stage – the threshold stage – there must be sufficient reasons to justify making a care or supervision order, i.e.  the case must cross a threshold. This threshold can only be crossed if the court agrees that things have happened which have already caused significant harm to a child, or pose a serious risk that significant harm will be suffered in the future.

The second stage – the welfare stage – even if the threshold is crossed, it must be in the child’s best interests to make an order. Therefore, it is not inevitable that a care or supervision order will be made every time the threshold is crossed.

If the Judge cannot pass the first stage – threshold is not met – he or she cannot go on to consider what if any orders to make. The care proceedings will come to an end. It is therefore vital to establish at a very early stage exactly what the LA want to rely on as their threshold criteria and to find out if the parents will agree or not.

Further reading

In the matter of B (A Child) [2013] UKSC 33