The court's approach to any matter that concerns children is ‘What is in the best interests of the children?' The courts in this country are concerned with the quality of care that can be given to children - they are not especially impressed by who has the bigger income or more impressive possessions.
There have been various changes to the law relating to children introduced by the Children Act. We firmly believe that anyone who has navigated to this web page needs to know some of the Act's basic principles:
The Paramountcy Principle
In deciding anything to do with a child, the court's paramount consideration is the child's welfare. The court must make decisions based on what it thinks is best for the child.
The law recognises that parents are the people responsible for a child. The child of a married couple has two parents and both of them are responsible for that child. On divorce, they continue to share that responsibility. In other words, if decisions have to be made about a child's education, religion, or medical treatment etc, that should be discussed and agreed by both parents. If no agreement can be reached, then the court may have to make the relevant decision.
The 'No Order' Principle
The court must decide whether it would be better for the child to make no order at all rather than making an order. The court takes the view that parents are responsible for their child and will act sensibly; the court will only become involved and make an order if necessary. It is common now for no orders at all to be made and unless any particular problem arises, that is how things will remain until the child grows up. There is no point in making an order if the parents have already agreed what is to happen.
The Welfare Checklist
When the court is dealing with anything to do with a child it has to pay attention to:
- The wishes of the child
- The child's needs
- The effect of any change on the child
- The child's age, gender and background
- Any harm the child has suffered or may suffer
- How capable each of the child's parents is
- The options available to the court
Like every other part of a relationship breakdown, each situation – and each child - is unique. We are here to help, so please contact us.