Chapter 6 Key facts checklists

The Children Act - the private law

• Private law matters concerning children (that is, disputes between individuals, not involving public bodies) are covered by the Children Act 1989, particularly s 1 and s 8.

• Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to that child and his property.

• Married parents and unmarried mothers have parental responsibility in respect of their children. Generally, unmarried fathers do not—but this can be acquired in several ways.

Section 8 of the 1989 Act provides for courts to make residence, contact, specific issue, and prohibited steps orders to resolve disputes over aspects of parental responsibility.

• The Children and Families Act 2014 replaced residence and contact orders with child arrangements orders. There are two types of child arrangements order, which largely correspond to the old residence and contact orders.

• When dealing with any matter relating to a child’s upbringing, the child’s welfare must be a court’s paramount consideration. The court must have regard to a welfare checklist, the ‘delay’ principle, the presumption of continued parental involvement, and the ‘no order’ principle in making its decisions.

• A child’s views can be considered and they can bring proceedings themselves (with the leave of the court) if they are of sufficient age and understanding to do so.

• Children Act orders generally last until a child is 16 years old, but child arrangements orders dealing with where a child is to live and when, have effect until they are 18.

Note: section numbers in this chapter refer to sections of the 1989 Act, unless it is made clear that another Act is being referred to.