What is the Welfare Checklist?
When deciding what is in a child’s best interests, the Court will follow certain guidelines called the Welfare Checklist.
The Welfare Checklist contains the law the Court has to consider when making any decision about a child after a parent makes an application to Court.
The Welfare Checklist means that the Court have to think about a number of different things when making a decision about your child. Some of these include:
- The wishes and feelings of the child (if they are old enough)
- The child’s physical and emotional needs
- If a child has suffered harm as a result of the care they have received from either parent
- If each parent is able to care for the child
- If the child is at risk from the care they are likely to receive
The Welfare Checklist allows the Court to decide where a child will live, for example with just one of the parents, or a shared arrangement with both of them. If the Court decides the child should live just with one parent, the Court might also decide how much time the child should spend with the other.
These sort of decisions are called Child Arrangement Orders. You can get a Child Arrangement Order by making an application to the Family Court.
Making a Decision without Going to Court
It’s important to try and come to an agreement with your child’s other parent before applying to Court. Your agreement can be in writing if needed, or you can get a Child Arrangement Order with consent from both of the parents.
Before applying to Court you will need to show that you have been to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). If mediation cannot be arranged or breaks down, then a form is provided so that you can still make an application to Court.
If you haven’t tried mediation the Court may reject the application or ask you to attend a MIAM, which might delay the process of making a decision about your children.
You won’t need to go to a MIAM in very urgent cases, such as child abduction or failure to return after a visit. You also won’t need to prove you have tried mediation in cases where there has been domestic abuse.
How Do You Apply to the Family Court?
You can apply to the Family Court by downloading a Form C100 from the gov.uk website and completing it. In this form you will need to include:
- Yours and the child’s other parent’s details
- Proof you have been to a MIAM (except in certain circumstances)
- The type of Court Order you are applying for
- If needed, a Supplemental Information Form C1A which sets out any allegations if there has been domestic abuse
One of our Family and Child Law Solicitors can help you apply to Court by getting to know your case and filling in the application forms with you over the phone.