In this article, we’ll explain what the welfare checklist is and when it is used.
The welfare checklist is a list of criteria which guides the court when it is deciding what is in the best interests of the child in family proceedings. The welfare checklist is located in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989.
When a court is asked to decide where a child should live, for example, it will use the welfare checklist to guide its decision. The court will also use the welfare checklist when making a decision about how often the other (non-resident) parent will see the child.
The welfare checklist, which guides the court’s decision making regarding what is in the child’s best interests in family proceedings, is as follows:
1. the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding)
2. his physical, emotional and educational needs
3. the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances
4. his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant
5. any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering
6. 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
7. the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question
Whether a child’s wishes will be taken into account is a common question we are asked by parents. As you can see, as per the welfare checklist, the court is required to take into account the wishes and feelings of the child. However, although the child’s wishes will be considered (how much weight these are given typically depends on a child’s age), they are taken into account along with the other factors of the case.
Usually, when making a decision, the court undertake a balancing exercise, taking into account all of the different factors on the welfare checklist.
The welfare checklist is used to deal with all children matters in family court proceedings. This includes where a child will live and how often they will have contact with the other parent.
Yes. A child’s welfare is of the utmost importance in family court proceedings. The welfare checklist guides the court when it is working out what is in the best interests of the child.
If both parents are able to come to an agreement about child arrangements following divorce or separation, there will normally be no need to go to court. Therefore, in many cases, the welfare checklist may not be required. However, if you do need to ask a court to decide your child arrangements, the welfare checklist will form a vital part of the court’s decision making.
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