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Under The Children Act 1989 the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration of the court when looking at the child’s upbringing or the administration of a child’s property or income. In reaching many decisions the court has to consider the welfare checklist set out below:
a) the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding).
b) his physical, emotional and educational needs
c) the likely effect on him of any change of circumstances
d) his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant
e) any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering
f) how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs
g) the range of powers available to the court under the Act in the proceedings in question.
One of the underlying principles of the Children Act is that “the court shall not make the order or any of the orders unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all”. A second very important principle is that delay is presumed to be harmful for a child.

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