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Placement Orders

A placement order authorises a local authority to place a child for adoption where there is no parental consent, or where it is deemed that consent is not necessary or appropriate. Alternatively, a placement by consent is where a parent or guardian has given their free and unconditional agreement to the child’s adoption.


Consent can be withdrawn up to and until a placement order has been made. Consent must be witnessed by an officer from Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Services (CAFCASS) and be shown on a special form. A mother’s consent will not be valid if given within the first six weeks of the birth. If a newborn child is placed with an adoption agency they will have to look after the child until it is six weeks old and then either ask for parental consent or apply for a placement order.

When would consent be deemed not necessary?

The consent of a parent or guardian may not be necessary if the following conditions apply:

  • the parent or guardian cannot be found or they are incapable of giving their agreement (because they are mentally ill or incapacitated)
  • the court is convinced that the safety and welfare of the child requires that the need for consent be dispensed with

The welfare of the child takes precedence over the rights of the birth parents. However, the courts are required to consider the impact on the child of ceasing to be a member of his/her birth family and the change in his/her relationship with the family that the subsequent adoption would bring.

Who has the authority to apply for a placement order?

Only local authorities can apply for a placement order. They are obliged to do so if a child is the subject of a care order and they consider the child to be at risk of significant harm. If the parents or legal guardians do not give consent, then a placement order may be sought. A court cannot make a placement order unless an effort has been made to notify the parents or guardians who have parental responsibility for the child that an application for a placement order is being made.

Contact AFG LAW

If you have further questions regarding placement orders or if you require legal advice about a placement order, please call 01204 377 600 and speak with AFG LAW’s expert family law team who can help. Alternatively, you can you can fill in our contact form or email us at We are also accredited members of The Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation Scheme.

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