Our website is set to allow the use of cookies. For more information and to change settings click here. If you are happy with cookies please click "Continue" or simply continue browsing. Continue.

  • Children Act Private Law Proceedings
Family Law eNews FL eNews

Weekly news and comment straight to your inbox

Sign Up Here
Buy a ticket or book a table today FLA 17

Children Act Private Law Proceedings

A Handbook


An invaluable companion for practitioners involved in private law proceedings

Paperback i

Book printed softcover

Other relevant online products

* Call 0330 161 1234 to find out more about online services

Children Act Private Law Proceedings: A Handbook is an invaluable companion for all practitioners involved in private law proceedings under the Children Act 1989. It provides both a detailed, widely researched analysis of substantive law and a clear guide to the relevant procedure.

This new edition has been thoroughly revised throughout and takes account of all recent case-law and important procedural developments, such as the introduction of the revised Private Law Programme. The contents have been recognised to provide a separate chapter on the implications of domestic violence for residence and contact. The introductory chapter has been completely rewritten in order to examine the changing nature of the family and its impact on private law proceedings.
The extensive text is supplemented by fully updated appendices containing essential statutory and other materials.
  • Private Law Proceedings in the Twenty-First Century
  • The Welfare Test
  • Child Law and Human Rights
  • Children’s Wishes and Feelings
  • Domestic Violence
  • Paternity and Parenthood
  • Parental Responsibility
  • Controlling the Exercise of Parental Responsibility
  • Controlling Parental Responsibility: Common Problems
  • Residence Orders
  • Contact
  • Guardianship and Special Guardianship Orders
  • Family Assistance Orders
  • Restrictions on Orders
  • Applications by Non-parents
  • Commencing Procedures
  • Directions Appointments
  • Expert Evidence
  • Section 7 Reports and Section 37 Reports
  • Trial
  • Restraining Further Applications
  • Duty to Disclose and not to Disclose
  • Enforcement
  • Costs
  • Appeals
  • Statutory Material
  • Procedural Rules
  • Principles of Contact
  • Domestic Violence and Contact
  • Research into Contact
  • Useful Addresses
Click here to see a PDF of the full content listing
"not only does it introduce Private Law relating to children, it also provides easy access to summaries of the law and also to policy reports, articles and research ... these materials are not always found in standard practice books ... thoroughly researched and logically organised, this new third edition, updated throughout makes reference to all recent case law and other important developments ... 25 chapters cover the full spectrum of issues, from child law and human rights ... and childrens wishes and feelings through to parental responsibility, contact, expert evidence and trial ... almost 100 pages in length, this is an indispensible work of reference which also should certainly find its way to the library of every family law practitioner and other professionals involed in family law"
for the full review click here

"excellent ... comprehensive, and it covers not only the law, but also practice issues"

"topical, clearly set out and extremely readable"


"an essential reference guide for all family law practitioners"


"a welcome addition to the library of practitioners - and will be particularly welcomed by new practitioners"


"providing a straightforward analysis of the substantive law and a clear guide to procedure ... an essential reference guide for all family law practitioners"


"comprehensive and accessible ... It would seem almost foolhardy for a lawyer acting in a private law case to be without access to this reference book ... also a valuable resource for family court advisers"


"excellent ... a cost effective way of being on top of the Children Act ... readable by the layman litigant ... never before has this sort of material been available and organised so coherently in one book"

In the Preface to the second edition of the Handbook, I wrote in 2006 that ‘these are exciting and challenging times for private family law’. ‘New’ family arrangements were being made and the Private Law Programme and the new contact provisions inserted into the Children Act 1989 offered a hope of making better provision for disputed contact cases. And, so it proved. Courts have been challenged to apply the principles of the Act to novel problems in same-sex families. What part, for example, should donor fathers play in the life of the child and how can family life between his father and his father’s same-sex partner be secured? Courts have tackled the issues and will continue to do so. Intractable contact disputes are a perennial challenge but Parenting Information Programmes and First Hearing Dispute Resolution appointments have helped to divert some families from litigation.

The Family Procedure Rules have created a unified Family Court in all but name, completing part of the project suggested by Sir Morris Finer and the Committee on One-Parent Families in 1974. Interestingly, the Committee saw that it was of fundamental importance that the advantages to be derived from the family court should be seen primarily in terms of ‘its capacity to help [families] make the best decisions and reach the best solutions over the whole range of problems which the fact of family breakdown produces in the circumstances of each … case.’
The next years, however, appear more daunting than exciting.

The proposals of the Family Justice Review may assist the resolution of some family problems but research cited in the Handbook consistently points to the many difficulties including the risk of domestic violence encountered in a significant proportion of cases which come to court and the long entrenched positions of parents in ‘high conflict’ cases. These are unlikely to be resolved by the use of parenting agreements or child arrangement orders. They require experienced judges supported by child guardians and access to expert advice. Even with specialist lawyers they make great demands on all resources. And yet, in the future, courts will be expected to deal with such cases when both parents are normally litigants in person, guardians will be in short supply and possibly unrepresented, with no means of paying for hair-strand testing, psychiatric advice or specialist contact centres.

The problems resulting from self-representing litigants are, of course, not confined to family courts. The recent Civil Justice Council report, Access to Justice for Litigants in Person warns that in many cases, ‘members of the public with good claims will be left with no option but to abandon their rights and leave problems unresolved and potentially worsening, unless they are prepared to attempt to represent themselves’. The same may come to be true of family justice.
On a happier note, I am very grateful to Sir Nicholas Wall P for writing such a generous Foreword. The editorial team at Jordans – Greg Woodgate, Kate Hather and Gillian Wright and my wife have, as always, been encouraging and supportive even when their patience has been tested and I am pleased to be able to thank them once again.

The law is stated as at 7 March 2012.

John Mitchell.

The Handbook is intended to serve two purposes. The first is to introduce the law and practice of the Private Law relating to children to practitioners who have little experience of the subject.
The second purpose is to provide experienced practitioners with easy access not only to summaries of the law in specific areas but also to policy reports, research and articles not always found in standard practice books.

Since the second edition of this valuable Handbook, the role of the court in relation to private disagreements relating to children has continued to be closely scrutinised. The recommendations of the Family Justice Review, which reported in November 2011, are designed to create a process which enables people, wherever possible and safe to do so to resolve these cases without court involvement. John Mitchell looks closely at the recommendations and considers them in the context of recent developments, including the revised Private Law Programme and the guidance issued by myself in relation to split hearings. In his discussion of the key issues, including that of violence within the family, he calls upon his own deep knowledge and experience as a highly respected family judge and upon the wide range of literature and research which has been commissioned in this vitally important area of the law.

The Handbook is primarily intended for legal and social work practitioners, although I am aware that previous editions have also been welcomed by and useful to litigants in person. By placing his discussion of the Children Act 1989 in the context both of policy and socio-legal research, in order to produce an holistic model of law and practice, John Mitchell ensures that this highly practical publication will also be of interest to students and to the wider ‘family’ community, to whom I am very glad to commend it.

Nicholas Wall,
President of the Family Division
March 2012

Have a question about this product? Please get in touch by completing the boxes below.

You May Also Like

DIY Divorce and Separation

DIY Divorce and Separation

The expert guide to representing yourself

If you are looking to represent yourself in court this book will de-mystify the legal process and...

Family Law Reports

Family Law Reports

"The unrivalled and authoritative source of judicially approved case reports, covering all areas...

Available in Lexis®Library
Child and Family Law Quarterly

Child and Family Law Quarterly

"The final professional word for the practitioner in family and child law" Phillip Taylor MBE...

More Info from £80.00
Available in Lexis®Library