What is the Child Welfare Checklist and Why is it so Important?
Updated: Mar 26
What is the Child Welfare Checklist?
The child welfare checklist is a list of everything regarding a child that the court must consider prior to varying, making or discharging any court orders that settle arrangements regarding a child and their living situation.
Legally it can be defined as: the aspects mentioned under Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 provide that a court must consider prior to varying, discharging, or making a contested Section 8 order or varying or discharging or making a special guardianship order
What are the main points of the Child Welfare Checklist?
The child welfare checklist is as follows:
1. The ascertainable feelings and wishes of the child concerned while considering the understanding and age of the child
The court must consider ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child.
Although, there is no law concerning how old a child has to be for the court to listen their wishes and feelings, by the age of 11 or 12 the court generally place more weight into the childs wishes. However, this still depends on the childs individual circumstance as the court will always make sure to consider the relative maturity of the child in question.
Usually, CAFCASS will speak to the child in order to ascertain the child’s feelings and wishes. In some of the exceptional cases, the Judge may also wish to speak to the child himself/herself, or perhaps request a letter from the child. It is important for the court to be satisfied that they understand the actual feelings and wishes of the child.
2. Educational, emotional, and physical needs of the child
The court is also required to consider the long term as well as short term emotional, physical and educational needs of the child. The court will consider which parent is best capable of providing for these needs and will make this decision based on the evidence provided to them.
Though it may be more simple for the court to understand whether a parent can provide for a child’s physical needs, the path to understanding a child’s emotional needs is much less straightforward and may therefore be more complex.
3. Sex, background, age, or any other feature of the child that the court may consider relevant
The court may also analyze and consider the cultural and religious background of the child, age of the child and any other characteristics specific to the child. This ensures that the court has a complete understanding of the situation at hand,
4. The power range is available to the court under the provision of the Children Act 1989 in the proceedings.
The court will consider each option and may make a wide range of orders even if these were not initially applied for. This is because the court will act in the best interest of the child.
5. Any harm suffered or potential risk of suffering
The court will also examine the potential harm the child has or may have or is at the risk of suffering.
The term harm can be defined as ill treatment or the impairment of health or development. The court will consider the potential risk and issue an order to protect the child from harm.
6. The capability of each of the parents and other related persons to whom the court may consider the relevant question as per the needs of the child.
The court will ensure that both the parents are giving first priority to the child and are able to meet the needs of the child.
Therefore, the court at this criterion will require to consider the accommodation capacity of both the parents with respect to provide for the needs of the child.
However, it should be noted that the needs of the child may differ from case to case.
7. The possible impact on the child in case of any change in their circumstances
The court must consider the potential impact if there is a change in the circumstances on the child. The court will take a decision that can cause the least disruption in the life of a child.
Where is the welfare checklist found?
The Welfare Checklist can be found under Section 1 of the Children Act 1989.
Why is the welfare checklist important in court?
The Welfare Checklist refers to a legal list of considerations for decision-making under the law provided in the Children Act 1989. The court must take this list under consideration while determining the arrangements for the child.
The court will also ensure that both parents are prioritizing the child and are able to meet the needs of the child.
The criteria of the welfare checklist therefore allows the court to consider whether parents are able to provide for all the needs of the child prior to making a judgement.
What does promoting the welfare of children mean?
Promoting the welfare of the children means understanding and addressing the child and protecting them from any maltreatment, Ensuring that the children grow up in a circumstance that is consistent to the provisions of safe and effective care etc.
How can we promote the welfare of children?
The following are some of the ways of promoting the welfare of children;
Helping the children to identify and recognize any suspicious behavior
Making the child understand what is good and bad for him or her
Ensure that they understand that you are there to help them in every aspect of life
What is a Section 7 Report and why is it important?
Where the welfare of the child is questioned in Private Law Children Act Proceedings, a report under Section 7 of the Children Act 1989 can be directed by the court.
This is also known as the S7 Report. The aforementioned report can be made by a relevant local authority or CAFCASS if they have any involvement in the case or they have been involved with the family recently.
Generally, S7 reports are required in cases of child arrangements where there are concerns related to the well-being and health of the child. These reports can also be used in case issues arise in relation to moving the school or area of the child.
A S7 report provides a detailed, full picture of the child’s situation allowing the court to get a complete understanding before making any important decisions regarding the child’s life.
The reports specifically highlights the welfare and safety of the child and the court requires this report in order to make a decision. The overall objective of the report is to make a final recommendation before the court.
How is the best interest of a child determined?
The best interest of the child can be determined in the following two ways;
Considering the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of his or her parents
Consider and make decision to ensure the emotional, social, moral and physical development of the child
What is the paramount principle?
The Paramount Principle refers to keeping the welfare and best interest of the child and paramount consideration.
The Care of Children Act provides a list a Judge has to take into account while making the orders around the protection and care of the children.
How can we help you with matters regarding Child Arrangements?
We at Court Help Limited are specialized in family court matters including checklist by drafting statements and applications. Our legal team has rich experience and knowledge to assist you in the documentation and paperwork involved in such cases. Apart from Child Welfare Checklist, we also specialize in various family law matters such as child custody, divorce settlement, domestic violence, etc.
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Note: This article is not meant for a piece of legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.