The avoidance of delay—private children
The avoidance of delay—private children

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The avoidance of delay—private children
  • The principle of avoidance of delay
  • When the principle applies
  • Issues regarding the avoidance of delay
  • The Children and Families Act 2014

The principle of avoidance of delay

In any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court must have regard to the general principle that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child. This places an onus on the court to ensure that any proceedings concerning the upbringing of a child are conducted as expeditiously as possible.

It is acknowledged that delay is not always prejudicial to the child's welfare. Delaying a decision to allow a period of monitored contact is for, rather than against, a child's interests.

When the principle applies

The principle applies:

  1. to questions that relate to the upbringing of a child, but not to questions of property

  2. to any proceedings and is not confined to those under the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989), eg to proceedings under the High Court's inherent jurisdiction

For further information, see:

Clarke Hall & Morrison on Children > Division 1 Cardinal Principles and Jurisdiction > Chapter 6 The Cardinal Principles of the Children Act 1989 > D Delay prejudicial to the child's welfare

Issues regarding the avoidance of delay

The following points should be noted:

The rule requires the court, not the parties, to have regard to the principle of avoiding delay. However, practitioners should not allow the case to drift. The Law Society's Family Law Protocol reminds solicitors that

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