The law relating to children

If a couple are separating or divorcing, there is bound to be an impact on their children, as well as on any children they may have from previous relationships. Most parents will want to put child welfare at the top of their agenda in these circumstances. If they genuinely do that, they will have the law’s full support – and they can count on ours too.

At Goughs we understand that a whole range of emotional and practical issues, for both parents and children, come into play when family dynamics are changing. Sometimes it’s hard for a parent to identify how best to tackle problems in relation to arrangements concerning children.

Fortunately, we deal with these issues every day in supporting and advising our clients, and can help you find the best way to make sense of your situation. We’ll discuss realistic solutions and suggest appropriate ways to tackle any difficulties, and advise you about all the options and processes available to enable you to resolve them.

Of course, we’re not just experts at methods of tackling challenges when it comes to children. We also know the law in depth, and will draw on that knowledge to help you. There’s no substitute for specific expert advice tailored to your position, but the following summary of the core legal principles of children law may be useful:

  1. The child’s welfare is paramount in deciding all questions about his/her upbringing and property.
  2. Delay in deciding any question with respect to the child’s upbringing is likely to prejudice the child’s welfare.
  3. The Court should not make any Order unless to do so is considered better for the child than making no Order.
  4. The Court should, when applying principle 1 above, pay particular regard to the following:-
  1. the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his/her age and understanding)
  2. His/her physical and emotional and educational needs
  3. The likely effect on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances
  4. His/her age, sex, background and any other characteristics which the Court consider relevant
  5. Any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  6. How capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs
  7. The range of powers available to the Court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question

Although these principles repeatedly mention the Court, in fact the majority of cases dealing with children never go to Court. We’d go so far as to say that, for most people, Court proceedings should be a last resort.

In our experience it’s far better to try to agree, with our input, a workable arrangement concerning children which both parents are prepared to abide by, or at least try. Of course, that isn’t always possible, and we will always tell you if we think your interests, and those of your children, would be best served by starting court proceedings.

Modern family law has evolved alongside society. More children than ever before are born to unmarried couples, same sex couples and single parents. Stepfamilies are very common, and grandparents and other relatives may have important roles to play in a child’s upbringing. Whatever your situation, at Goughs we’ll be able to give you the specialist advice and guidance you need to ensure that the children in your family are placed at the heart of all you want to achieve.

For further information or to arrange your free half-hour initial consultation please contact the Family team on 01249 712193 or email family@goughs.co.uk