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Clarke & Son Blog​

Protecting My Children From Their Parent… And The Court

In a recent article published by the BBC it has been suggested that a number of parents, following or during private Children Act Court proceedings, are fleeing the country with their children to protect them from the child’s other parent.


One of the reasons as to why parents are taking this approach is because they believe the Court have not considered the harmful effect the other parent has had on their children and them, and more importantly, their children’s lives.


Parents who have fled have asserted that the other parent has committed acts of domestic abuse towards them and that such events have not been considered properly by the Court during these Children Act proceedings.


In the jurisdiction of England and Wales the law recognises that the child’s welfare is paramount and it is at the forefront of the Court’s decision making, and in order to ensure that the Court is acting in accordance with the child’s welfare, a list of factors, commonly referred to as the Welfare Checklist, are considered by the Court in making any judgement deemed appropriate.


The seven factors that are considered within the welfare checklist range are:


  • Ascertaining the wishes and feelings of the child.
  • The physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child.
  • The age, sex, background, and other characteristics which the Court consider relevant for the child.
  • Whether there is any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
  • How capable are the parents, and any other person whom the Court considered relevant, in meeting the needs of the child.
  • The range of powers that are available to the Court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.


Whilst the Welfare Checklist clearly defines numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration it is not an exhaustive list and any number of other relevant factors can also be taken into consideration.


At first glance it could be viewed as being strange that some parents have considered the Court’s determination as not appropriate for their child and therefore that they felt they had no alternative other than to take such drastic measures to do what they believe is as being in their child’s best interests.


To remove a child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, without the consent of the other parent or without an Order from the Court is child abduction and therefore it is never advisable to undertake an action such as this in any regard as it could very easily have severe repercussions and the Court will highly likely take a very dim view.


The reality of the situation is that if separated parents cannot agree on the arrangements for their children splitting their time between the two households then the only way of determining the issue is to go to Court.


Within Court proceedings the decision making process is not going to happen overnight and depending on the issues of the case it may take many months to get to a stage where those decisions can be made.


The nuances of Children Act proceedings, especially those where there are allegations or indeed findings of domestic abuse, fall outside the scope of this article, but many parents will find Court proceedings relating to their children a very emotional undertaking. However from a legal perspective it is in our experience very rare for a Court to come to the wrong conclusion. What needs to be borne in mind is that sometimes what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child does not necessarily mirror a parent’s view.


Here at Clarke and Son Solicitors, we can assist and advise you regarding Children Act matters along with any potential need for making an application to the Court for an Order or the possible variation or enforcement of an existing Order.


If you are having difficulties in trying to resolve an issue concerning your spouse or with regards to your child, then please get in touch with our Family Law department for specialist legal advice on 01255 320 555 or email mail@clarkeandson.co.uk.

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