Welfare of the Child

What is the Welfare of the Child?

The court is required by law, when determining any question about the upbringing of a child or the administration of a child's property or the application of any income arising from it, to have the welfare of the child as it's paramount consideration.

In considering the welfare of the child the court must take in to account:

  • The child's wishes and feelings (which must be considered in light of the child's age and understanding);
  • The child's physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • The likely effect on the child of any change in the child's circumstances;
  • The child's age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child's which the court considers is relevant;
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • How capable each of the child's parents (and any other person who may be a carer) is of meeting the child's needs;
  • The range of powers available to the court under the law in the proceedings in question.

The court must presume that, unless it is shown otherwise, that the involvement of a child's parents in their life will further the child's welfare.  This means a parent can be involved in a child's life, whether directly or indirectly, unless there is evidence before the court to suggest that involvement of the parent in the child's life would put the child at risk of suffering harm, whatever the form of involvement.

The court also has a statutory obligation to only make an order about a child if it will be better for the child than making no order at all (this is commonly referred to as the 'no order principle').

The welfare of the child means the child is the focus of the proceedings and the court is concerned with what is best for the child.