Property Belonging to Children | Extract from Dictionary of Private Children Law 2023
21st March 2023
Authors: Zoë Saunders, Piers Pressdee KC, & Professor Rob George
Read an exclusive extract on 'Property Belonging to Children' from Dictionary of Private Children Law 2023:
Section 1 Children Act 1989 is the most well-known of provisions, yet s 1(1)(b) is rarely considered by the courts: ‘When a court determines any question with respect to … (b) the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration’ (emphasis added).
Issues covered in s 1(1)(b) fall within the court’s welfare remit because they fall within the ambit of parental responsibility,1 and therefore the court can act to determine any issues that are in dispute or require clarification by the making of a section 8 order.2 The fact that issues connected to a child’s property (or income from property) are matters of parental responsibility has a number of consequences, as Peel J has noted:3
- A parent has the responsibility to act in their child’s interests in relation to property to which the child is entitled.
- A parent has not only the rights and powers, but also the duties to take steps to receive or recover the property for the benefit of the child, which includes (depending on the circumstances) ‘enabl[ing] the child to receive or recover property in the child’s own name, and not merely enabling the person with parental responsibility to receive or recover property in his or her own name for the benefit of the child’.4
There was earlier authority to suggest that the powers of the parent, and therefore of the court, in relation to parental responsibility might be limited so as not to cover the situation of a parent entering into a contract in order to sell immovable property on behalf of a child.5 However, Peel J has subsequently taken a wider view and made clear that disposing of property by way of sale is within the scope of parental responsibility and therefore of the court’s powers under s 8.6
1. Children Act 1989, s 3(2), (3).
2. AC (A Child)  EWFC 90, ; B (A Child)  EWFC 7, .
3. AC (A Child), .
4. AC (A Child), .
5. Hays v Hays  EWHC 3825 (Ch).
6. B (A Child), , adopting the obiter reasoning of AC (A Child), –.
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