The law relating to children is governed by the Children Act 1989. This Act abolished Custody and Access Orders which had previously been made in divorce proceedings. The most important provisions contained in the Children Act 1989 are as follows:
- In determining any issue in relation to a child, the child's welfare shall be the Court is paramount consideration.
- Unless there are clear reasons to the contrary, the Court will presume that no Order should be made in relation to a child. This is known as the "No Order Presumption".
- As far as possible, arrangements should be agreed between the parties and should not be the subject of formal Court proceedings. If possible, and where appropriate, the Statement of proposed arrangements for the children should be sent to the other spouse before divorce proceedings are started with a view to an agreed Statement being filed with the Court. If proceedings are necessary, in reaching any decision a Court will have close regard to a specific check list of issues which the Court should consider which are set out in the Children Act 1989.
- In cases where the Court considers the child's welfare requires that an Order should be made in relation to that child, there are four main orders which the Court can consider.