What does the Court look at when it is asked to make an order re Children following divorce or separation?

The starting point is that the Court’s paramount consideration is the child’s welfare – that is, the Court is to look at what is in your child’s best interests.

There are a number of factors which the Court has to take into consideration in reaching it decision. These factors are commonly known as the “welfare checklist” and are:-

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
  • His physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
  • His age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the Court considers relevant;
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
  • The range of powers available to the Court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

To help it reach a decision, the Court may ask a CAFCASS officer to prepare a report making recommendations specific to your application, and with specific reference to your child.

The CAFCASS officer may interview you and your former partner, the child concerned, and, in certain circumstances, other family members, such as new partners or other children in the family.

The report will normally make a recommendation as to what is in the child’s best interests and the conclusions and recommendations of the report are, in the overwhelming majority of cases, adopted by the Court at any final hearing.

You may find it helpful to look at the website run by CAFCASS:

www.cafcass.org.uk

Powers of the Court

The Court now has the power, during the lifetime of your case, to make Orders requiring the parents to attend a Separated Parents Information Program – a course which is designed to help parents learn more about the challenges of post separation parenting, including the effects on the children of any ongoing hostility between the parents.

It also has the power to direct that the parties to the case should attend mediation at any stage during the progress of the case.

See more on Children following Divorce, here. Please contact us to discuss your legal position.