FAQs: General information on child law


What laws govern children?

There are a variety of different laws that govern and protect children in the UK. Amongst the main Acts of Parliament are the Children Act 1989, the Adoption and Children Act 2002, and the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005.

The laws cover a wide array of areas, including:

  • Contact and residence (after separation or divorce)
  • Adoption
  • Care and protection
  • Human rights

What are children’s rights during divorce?

When parents separate or divorce, children are often strongly affected. In some instances parents can make arrangements for the care of their children without intervention from the courts. However, divorce is often complicated and custody arrangements will frequently have to be decided by the courts. The courts’ primary consideration will be the best interests of the children and their right to be protected from abuse, violence and neglect.

What are parent’s rights during divorce?

The law is more concerned with parental responsibilities than parental rights. Parents have a responsibility to maintain their child, which includes providing for their material and emotional needs.

Parental responsibility gives parents the right to make decisions concerning their child. This includes decisions relating to the child’s living arrangements, schooling, medical care and religion.

When can children be taken from their parents?

Usually, parents are free to care for and raise their children without interference from public authorities. However, when concerns arise regarding the care and welfare of children, the authorities may become involved. In some cases, the authorities will make an application to the courts for an order to safeguard the welfare of the child. Orders that the court can make include:

  • Care orders
  • Supervision orders
  • Emergency protection orders
  • Secure accommodation orders

How can a solicitor help with child access?

A family law solicitor can advise on all issues relating to child access, as well as matters concerning care and protection, welfare issues and adoption. Couples who are separating or getting divorced should consult a family law solicitor for advice about their rights and responsibilities. If the parents are unable to reach agreement about the care of their child, such as living and access arrangements, a solicitor can help negotiate on your behalf. If negotiations are unsuccessful, a family law solicitor can commence action in the courts.

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