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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) [2020] EWFC 90, [24]; B (A Child) [2022] EWFC 7, [16].
      3. AC (A Child), [18].
      4. AC (A Child), [18].
      5. Hays v Hays [2015] EWHC 3825 (Ch).
      6. B (A Child), [12], adopting the obiter reasoning of AC (A Child), [17]–[23].

      Dictionary of Private Children Law (2023)

      The Dictionary of Private Children Law is a unique reference guide to the key concepts, cases, and practice of private children law. Its A4 format and targeted concise content makes it a unique model of accessibility and portability.

      Presented in an easy to use A-Z format, with cross references where required, each entry acts like a practice note on the topic setting out the essential law, key cases, and practice points. The book distils the combined experience of the editors with the aim of providing a concise practical handbook focusing on the most important issues and practice points likely to be encountered by anybody involved in a private children law case. The intention is to achieve this aim for judges and practitioners working in the field, but also to provide a book sufficiently accessible for litigants acting without lawyers.