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.