How does the court take into account the children’s feelings and point of view during a case, do they have a say?

During family court proceedings in Italy, where grandparents were unable to see their two grandchildren due to family conflict, the Supreme Court ruled that the interests of the children surpass those of the grandparents and that the children were therefore not legally required to visit their grandparents.

The Court’s decision

In most family proceedings in England and Wales, the Court is required to consider the welfare of the child when making decisions concerning that child’s future. The Court must have reference to specific criteria set out, principally, in the Children Act 1989 when considering welfare.

  1. The wishes and feelings of the child concerned are taken into account, although they will not necessarily determine the Court’s decision. The Court will consider the child’s wishes in conjunction with other factors, for example their age and maturity.
  2. The Court will consider a child’s need for their basic physical, emotional and educational needs to be met, together with the likely impact on them of a change of circumstances. This might be relevant if, for example, the Court is being asked to consider a child living with a different parent, or changing school.
  3. The ability of a parent or other and potential caregiver to provide good enough care for the child is considered. The Court may consider any particular requirements the relevant child may have and any barriers to a carer meeting their particular needs.
  4. The Court will analyse any harm that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering. Harm is not defined, but can include emotional, physical or other forms of harm. A Court may for example consider the potential emotional harm to a child that might result from a relocation which leads to them seeing less of one of their parents.
  5. The Court will consider whether there are any specific factors arising from a child’s race, culture or religion that need to be taken into account. The Court will usually want to ensure that decisions in relation to a child do not have a negative impact on their identity or beliefs.

Summary | Children’s Feelings

In this country, a child’s wishes and feelings are one of a number of factors the Court must have regard to when making a decision about their future. Every decision taken by a Court in children proceedings is tailored to the specific circumstances before it and the central consideration the Court must have is a child’s overall welfare.


If you have any further enquiries regarding court cases and Children’s feelings, please feel free to contact our Family Team.