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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. Here at Cozens-Hardy LLP, we firmly believe that anyone reading this Fact Sheet 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. For example, it is common now for no orders at all to be made as to residence (what used to be called custody') and contact (what used to be called ‘access') in a divorce, where the husband and wife have agreed where the child should live and when the other parent sees the child. 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:
Like every other part of a relationship breakdown, each situation – and each child - is unique. We are here to help, so please contact us.
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If you have a legal question we will try to help you. If your question is property related, it's definitely worth looking at Philippa Rudd's EDP Homes24 column.
Philippa Rudd, head of our residential property department, is a regular columnist for the property supplement of the Eastern Daily Press.