Child law


Child law encompasses a range of different subjects. Below are some of the areas that child law includes:

  • Child support issues
  • Adoption
  • Custody of children following divorce or separation
  • Child protection matters
  • The provision of social housing for families with children
  • Welfare benefits for families with children

Child protection

The child-protection aspect of family and child law deals with children in distress or facing danger or neglect. Often these arise from an unstable family life.

The law needed to develop authorisation for local authorities to step in when such cases are discovered. To that end the Children Act 1989 introduced several new procedures, such as:

  • The obligation for police to investigate when a child is reported to be in danger
  • Authorising the courts to make specific orders for the protection of children, such as safe accommodations, supervision and emergency protection

Custody of children following divorce or separation

When parents decide to end a marriage the rights of the parents regarding the children is often a hotly contested issue.

The court ruling on these matters is based on the welfare of the child. Parents who seek custody therefore need to show the court that they can offer the child a positive environment. The court has the ability to decide on the matter of custody, on visitation rights, on prohibited behaviour by the parents, and even on specific issues in the child’s life, such as school. See our page on child custody for more information.

Social housing for families with children

If you become homeless and have a ‘dependant’ child, law requires local housing authorities to place you in ‘priority need’ for accommodation.

This means that the relevant local housing authority may have a legal duty to re-house you and your child or children. Whether the local authority will owe you a housing duty will depend on whether you pass other legal tests.

If the local authority does not have a duty to house you and your child, the law normally places an obligation on social services to help you.

Welfare benefits for families with children

If you have a child, the law on welfare benefits will become relevant. Under benefit laws you are likely to be entitled to the following benefits:

  • Child tax credit
  • Child benefit
  • Help with child-care costs

It may be that you are entitled to other benefits depending on your circumstances. A welfare benefits lawyer would be able to give you detailed advice on this subject.

If you have any type of legal dispute in relation to your child, family law advice on the subject should be sought. There are various different types of providers that offer advice on family law. Arguably, the best person to seek help of in relation to a family law issue is a specialist solicitor. A family law solicitor will be able to offer you specialist advice and support on your issue.

Do you need help with a child law issue? Contact Law works with a range of family law solicitors, specialising in different areas of child law. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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