Child care law covers a wide number of issues – for example in a divorce who will get custody of the children? How do you define the duty of care to a child? What constitutes neglect or abuse? It may sound simple but as with a lot of legal issues this may not be as clear cut as some people think and this is why it helps to get the best legal advice, especially when it comes to looking after your children.


Parental responsibility


Under UK law this is defined as responsibility towards who looks after a child, where the child lives and how that child is educated. How this is monitored and enforced will vary depending on the county within the UK.




In England, if there is concern that a child is not being properly cared for (or is at risk of serious harm) then the local authority may take action to take the child into care. Usually this only occurs after efforts have been made to keep the child with their family.


A pre-proceedings meeting usually follows after initial contact. During this meeting an agreement will usually be made. If the terms of this agreement are broken the child may be taken into care.


Northern Ireland


The process is similar to England. However, what often happens is that the authorities develop a care plan when intervening in a care situation to ensure that the families have clear guidelines on what to do. As with England if the agreement is breached the child may be taken into care.




In Scotland a care plan is usually referred to as a child plan. While there is no legal requirement for people to report issues there is guidance regarding a “collective responsibility” to protect the needs of children involved in any potential abuse situations.


Other issues


Care does not necessarily solely refer to children being taken into care. For example, there are issues of what happens if parents get divorced and who will get custody of them.


With any legal issues involving children, the biggest concern should be their welfare. Even in the most amicable of divorces or separations this can be a difficult and emotive subject for couples to discuss.


This is why we have a dedicated team that not only deal with the legal ramifications of childcare issues but also prepare couples for the emotional situations that can occur. If you are concerned about this, then it is worth contacting us on 023 9244 8100 so we can go over all the issues involved and ensure that everything is handled as sensitively as possible.