In 1989 the Children’s Act 1989 (sometimes shortened to the Child’s Act) was brought in. This created a number of guidelines with regard to childcare issues, with particular emphasis on the welfare of children.
One aspect of childcare legal issues is a checklist. This checklist comprises of what the child wants, their personal needs (education, physical requirements and emotional fulfilment), how any changes the court orders could affect the child, their background, any harm the child may have previously suffered (and the risk of potential harm in the future), whether a child’s parents or guardians can meet their needs and the power of the court to make decisions on the child’s welfare.
Essentially the idea behind this checklist is to achieve consistency. If these are not properly followed, then it could result in an appeal.
One potential issue can be cultural- a court needs to decide if moving a child from their home environment will affect them if they have to go to a different culture. The lifestyle of the parents involved will also be considered.
Another big factor is time- due to the sensitive nature of any childcare legal proceedings, the court will usually look to resolve a case as soon as possible. In the case of more extreme situations, the court can issue an Emergency Protection Order, allowing them to remove a child from their home immediately if it is felt that they need to do so for the child’s protection.
The Child Act also refers to parental responsibility- this is where it should be outlined how a child will be brought up, their education, who will be their appointed guardians in the event of their parents dying or being unable to care for them and so forth.
For example, a child may need to have an operation. It would be important to ascertain who is in a position to give consent (as some religions may not allow certain medical procedures such as blood transfusions).
In terms of who has priority, normally the mother will have the priority for parental responsibility, even after a divorce and married fathers will often have priority over unmarried fathers.
However, step-parents or grandparents do not have automatic priority in this instance.
However, it is possible to create agreements where people who are not the mother or father can apply for parental responsibility agreements. However, the court may refuse to grant a Parental Responsibility Order if it is felt that this access has been used, or the partner has been arrested on a custodial sentence for robbery or a criminal record that involves child cruelty.
We can help
If you have any concerns regarding childcare, we want to help. Larcomes has been a family firm for many years now, and we believe in working closely with our clients, guiding them through difficult and emotional circumstances. For more information or to discuss a specific case, please contact one of our specialist legal professionals today.