13 December 2016

14th October 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of the substantive implementation of the Children Act 1989 which was introduced on 14 October 1991.

The Association of Lawyers for Children (the ALC) has noted the anniversary, stating: "The introductory text to the Children Act 1989 states that this is 'An Act to reform the law relating to children' – a modest understatement.

"The Act, crucially, established children's welfare as paramount in making decisions about a child's upbringing"

The act provides the court with a toolkit for children law cases. Before this act in 1991 the legislation was disparate with lots of different legislation dealing with different aspects of the law. 

The Act was brought in to reform the law relating to children.

The Children Act 1989 introduced several principles including:

  • The child’s welfare “shall be the court’s paramount consideration”.
  • Delay in resolving matters is “likely to prejudice the welfare of the child”.
  • The court “shall not make any order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all” – otherwise known as the “No Order” principle.
  • The ‘welfare test’ is determined by the Family Court with reference to the welfare checklist, which is set out in the Children Act 1989
  • This includes but is not limited to matters such as:
  • child’s needs 
  • wishes and feelings 
  • age 
  • sex 
  • background
  • It also considers the impact of any proposed changes in the child’s upbringing when making an order.

When the courts consider and apply the welfare checklist, the rights of the adults are not significant when looking at the needs of the child concerned. The courts look at the child's best interests for now and the future and will look particularly at the emotional needs of a child and not the parent's desire to spend time with the child.

At Gepp and Sons we understand the importance to work out the best solution for you and your children. If you need advice or assurance in relation to an issue relating to a child matter we have experienced lawyers to help. We offer a free half hour consultation. Our lawyers Steven Payne can be contacted on 01245 228106 and at paynes@gepp.co.uk and Sarah Overy on 01245 228132 and at overys@gepp.co.uk and Sally Ward on 01245 228118 and at wards@gepp.co.uk and Keeley Lawrence-Hoyle on 01245 493939 and at Lawrence-hoylek@gepp.co.uk