Is there a presumption by the courts that a child should live with the natural parent rather than a family member? Family associate Andrew Lobb reviews a recent case.

In a recent High Court case about a 16 year old young person the court considered the presumption of a child living with the natural parent rather than with a family member. In this case the young person came to the UK with her mother and was living with her and her maternal aunt and uncle.  This lasted for about 10 years before she started seeing her father when his paternity was confirmed. Sadly four years later the child’s mother died and she went to live with her aunt.  The aunt applied for a child arrangements order in her favour. The court initially made an order sharing the care between the father and aunt. Subsequently the court ordered it was in the child’s best interest for her to live with her father with regular time with her aunt each week.

The best interests of the child

The High Court reviewed previous cases when it had considered if there was an assumption in favour of the natural parent or family member and had determined that a deciding factor was what would be in the best interests of the child.

In this case the child’s best interests were met with her father.

Take into account all factors

Previous High Court proceedings in cases brought by local authorities have also confirmed that in making a decision about with whom a child should  live  the court needs to take into account all factors without applying an assumption or “right” for a child to be brought up in their natural family.  This is particularly important in cases when, for example, the child has been placed with prospective adopters and a family member then comes forward seeking to care for the child.