The Care of Children Act 2004 (COCA) is
an extremely important piece of
legislation in family law. The purpose of
this legislation is to promote the welfare
of children, and to aid their development.
Although it covers many areas, one of its
primary roles is to ensure that the care
arrangements of children are sorted out.
It is also very important in recognising
Sections 4, 5 and 6 of The Care of
Children Act 2004 are paramount.
Section 4 declares that the child’s best
interests and welfare are paramount.
This puts the welfare of children first in
any parenting disputes, and means that
the conduct of parents will only be
considered where it impacts the welfare
of the children involved.
Section 4 also ensures that any decisions
made about the child (for example by the
courts) are made in a timeframe relative
to the child and their sense of time.
Six months is obviously a very long
period in a three year olds life, whereas
in a 14 year olds life, six months does
not seem as long.
Section 5 of the Act lays out a list of
considerations the court must look at
when determining what would be in the
child’s best interests and welfare.
Continuity in care is extremely important.
This means that it is important for the
child to have the same people look after
him or her. Further to this, it is important
that the child experiences continuity in
family and culture.
Relationships between children and
family members are very important and
the Act states that these sorts of
relationships must be both preserved and
This part of the Act is also strongly in
favour of children being aware of who
their parents are, as well as the culture
of their parents.
The child’s identity must be preserved
and strengthened also, and this includes
aspects such as culture, language, and
religion. Finally, this part of the Act is
vital as it states the physical safety of the
child must be protected at all times.
Section 6 of the Act is all about the
child’s right to be heard and listened to,
and for the child’s views to be taken into
account, where a decision is being made
that will affect them. No matter how old
the child is, the child’s views must be
This is usually done through a lawyer for
child. The lawyer for child is responsible
for talking to the child and getting their
thoughts or opinion on the matter.
Even if the child is just a baby, the
lawyer for child still must meet with the
Under The Care of Children Act 2004,
ideally parents or guardians will make
amicable decisions and will be cooperate
in order to decide matters relating to the
Where this is unable to occur, the
legislation lays out the factors that the
court must take into account when
making decisions regarding children.
The Care of Children Act 2004 is used
when there are disputes or
disagreements between guardians
relating to the child. It is also very
important in protecting children where
there is family violence occurring, or the
child is at risk of harm.
This statute also encourages use of
alternative dispute resolution. This
means attending counselling or
mediation instead of going to court.
The Care of Children Act 2004 is all about
the child, and getting the best outcome
for the child or children involved. It
covers a range of areas, but ultimately
focuses on the welfare of the child or
children at the heart of the dispute.
Read more about the child law here: