How the court decides what orders to make?

When deciding what orders to make the welfare of the child will be the court’s ‘paramount consideration’.

The court is also required to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the involvement of both parents in the life of the child will further the child’s welfare.

In considering what is best for the child’s welfare the court will have regard in particular to the following factors:

  • 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. For example special health needs, or special 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; and
  • How capable each of the parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs.