What is Section 20 – Voluntary Accomodation?

‘Voluntary Accommodation’ is used where the local authority is concerned that a child cannot be looked after safely at home, resulting in them asking permission for the child to be looked after under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

If someone does have parental responsibility for the child they can voluntarily allow the local authority to accommodate their child. Voluntary accommodation is typically with local authority foster carers or a family member (such as a grandparent) who has been approved by the local authority.

A section 20 agreement does not include any involvement from the Court and signing the agreement does not mean you hand over parental responsibility of the child to the local authority. However, if the local authority has contacted you about a voluntary accommodation, we would recommend seeking legal advice as soon as you can before the local authority or police take further action.

At Rotheras our child care team have a wealth of experience in assisting and advising families who have received a section 20 voluntary accommodation.

Why use Rotheras when you have received a Section 20 Voluntary Accommodation?

We can go over the section 20 agreement with you to make sure you fully understand the terms and implications of the agreement before you sign it.

We can advise you if you don’t agree with the section 20 agreement, including what further steps the local authority might take against you.

We can offer guidance where you wish to withdraw your consent and the local authority has ignored your attempts to withdraw consent or not made it clear how you can withdraw consent.

We can offer Legal Aid where eligible.

We can liaise with the local authority and other parties on your behalf.

We have a network of seven offices across Nottingham that can advise you in relation to child care proceedings.

We can advise families on the whole process of a section 20 agreement, including any assessments the local authority might undertake if they plan to issue an application to the court.

In situations where the parents and local authorities are able to work together, we can advise the parents on changes they can make to ensure their child is returned to them.

We can help you with:

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Our Child Care Team

Ann-Marie Bowman

Partner & Chairwoman

Ann-Marie Bowman is Partner and Chairwoman of Nottingham based law firm Rotheras. Ann-Marie remains highly committed to her fee-earning work in family law, dealing with all aspects of children matters.

Ruth Tyas

Associate Solicitor

Ruth specialises in all aspects of family law and since 2010 she has been an accredited specialist in private law children matters and in domestic abuse where urgent protective remedies are required.

Sally Hartland

Associate Solicitor

Sally Hartland is a Family, Matrimonial and Child Law specialist based at our offices in The Lace Market.

Rebecca Lister


Rebecca Lister is a Solicitor within our Family Department and specialises in children and child care proceedings, regularly representing parents during care proceedings.

Chris Bradshaw

Family Law Executive

Chris specialises in children matters and provides support to Ann-Marie Bowman.

Sue Dutton

Legal Executive

Sue Dutton is a Legal Executive in the Family and Childcare department at Rotheras and is based at our Long Eaton office.

Beccy Rodham


Beccy Rodham is a Paralegal in Rotheras Family Law department and is based at our Lace Market office.


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