The Welfare Checklist

The philosophy behind the Children Act 1989 is that any genuinely concerned person should be able to ask the Court to consider a question relating to the welfare of a child. The criterion for dealing with all Children matters (i.e. where they will reside, how often each parent sees them etc...) are set out in The Welfare Checklist in the Children Act 1989. It is the main foundation to all decisions involving children. The Act provides a lot of flexibility to enable practical solutions to what can be very difficult issues, with emphasis on the welfare of the children concerned. There are a number of specific factors that are given prominence, however how these are applied to any particular case or issue is very specific to your individual circumstances. The following factors are given specific attention:

  • The wishes and feelings of your child, taking into account their age and understanding of the situation
  • Your child's physical, emotional and educational needs and whether the person applying for the Contact order can meet those needs
  • Your child's age, gender, background and any relevant characteristics
  • Any harm your child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • How capable you or your child's other parent are, or any other relevant person (such as a grandparent) are of meeting your child's needs
  • The likely affect on your child of any change in circumstances, such as in their home or wider life
  • The range of powers available to the Court in the proceedings in question

Dependent on circumstances, it may be that one or other factor will decide the whole issue. However, it is much more common that a balancing exercise has to be undertaken.

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