- 17 Feb 2022
- 2 min read
Myth busting: is the family court biased towards mothers?
There is often a perception that the Family Court is biased towards mothers when determining applications relating to arrangements for children on separation or divorce.
When determining any application with reference to a child, the Court’s paramount consideration is the child’s welfare. In deciding what is in the best interests of that child’s welfare, the Court is obliged to have regard to a range of factors set out in the Children Act 1989 which together are known as ‘the welfare checklist’. Each factor must be considered by the Court and none are more or less important than the other. These welfare factors are as follows:
- the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the 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 his or her circumstances;
- the child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his or hers which the Court considers 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 in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant) is of meeting his or her needs; and
- the range of powers available to the Court under the Children Act 1989 in the proceedings in question.
None of the factors make reference to the gender of either parent and are purely focused on a considered assessment of the child’s welfare and each case will be determined on its own facts.
The only presumption a Court is required to make is that, unless the contrary is shown, the involvement of the parent in the child’s life will further the child’s welfare. This presumption therefore only applies providing the involvement of that parent in the child’s life will not put the child at risk of suffering harm.