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Child Support and the Human Rights Act 1998

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Jul 2017 |
Human Rights Act Law Child Support

The Human Rights Act provides a number of fundamental rights and freedoms that UK citizens are entitled to enjoy by law, unless those rights are expressly or implicitly taken away by law. For example, the right to liberty is qualified by the fact that a person’s liberty can be taken away by the state, such as through arrest or imprisonment. The important Article in the Human Rights Act for the purposes of child support is Article 8.

What Article 8 Means

Article 8 relates to the right that people should be entitled to a personal and family life, and provides protections from the State for someone’s home and correspondence. Article 8 freedoms are wide ranging, and incorporate a huge variety of a person’s existence. These include rights of transsexual people, the right to develop your own personality and, critically, the right to create relationships with others. As a result, a child has a right to have a relationship with his or her parents, siblings are entitled to know and see each other, and grandparents should be entitled to form relationships with their grandchildren.


Although there is a right to private life in Article 8, this right of privacy is not absolute. The State is entitled to interfere if necessary, but this can only be under circumstances. These are:

  • the interference must be lawful
  • there must be a reason for the interference
  • the interference must be necessary in a democratic society

In terms of the reasons for the interference, it must not be gratuitous – but must be carried out in pursuance of an ‘identified legitimate aim.’ Therefore an individual’s privacy rights can be invaded on the grounds of:

  • national security, economic well-being of the country, or public safety
  • to protect rights and freedoms of others
  • to prevent crime or disorder
  • to protect health or morals.
This means, therefore, that the interference of the Child Maintenance Service in a separated parent’s life is fully justified on the basis of one of the restrictions contained within Article 8. This is because the interference caused by the CMS is justified on the basis that it protects the rights of others (the child), as well as arguably protecting the health of the child because of the provision of a financial benefit.

How Is Article 8 Used?

The Human Rights Act is commonly misinterpreted. The Act applies only to public bodies, rather than individuals. That means, therefore, that if your ex-partner is refusing to allow you to see your child you cannot then sue your ex-partner under Article 8. That said, the court is recognised as a public body. Legal challenges can be brought in other ways and the court can then be asked to protect your Article 8 rights. It would not be possible, however, to bring a claim against a private individual solely on the basis of Article 8.

This concept sometimes causes confusion, especially since high profile celebrities often bring court cases on the basis of ‘privacy’ (which is a concept protected by Article 8.) These cases are usually to do with a newspaper publishing intimate photographs or details of a celebrity’s private life that they do not consider should be in the public domain. In these circumstances, the celebrity in question will often bring the court case on the basis of ‘breach of confidence’ and then ask the court to enforce their Article 8 privacy rights.

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I have 3 daughters all in education 2 higher education,my youngest 10 her father does not want any part of her upbringing financially physically her wellbeing dancing school etc no support at all and financially and emotionally I am exhausted but financially I'm finding such situations by benefit department not doing my housing and council tax claim correctly my landlord taking me to court to evict us even though I'm causing my family hardship and depriving our daily needs too pay as much as possible then I get behind with keeping on top of situations as it has took a lot of organising then tax credits take 4.500 pound overpayment in one year housing benefit again say they can use figures of calculations as if I'm still receiving the 4,500 so out of 27.00 a week my landlord wants me to pay 90 so they taking me back to court to take Our home of 9 year which it's took me to get it a home and now my youngest is very ill ongoing hospital etc etc she is needing extra love care and certainly time due to her illness the list goes on and I've been to can of which were no help and basically I'm a survivor of a violent abusive marriage 10 year ago I had nothing but my children one was a baby so it's been a lot to make my children a home while continuing as normal and I really have no support off parents no one .
Las - 5-Jun-17 @ 4:03 AM
I need to talk to someone about my case...thanks
juliana - 22-Feb-16 @ 2:54 PM
I would like to find out if your child father's name is not on the child birth certificate but know the child his his biological child want to see him once in a while doesn't want to listen to the main needs of the child and only wants to buy him toys and don't want to maintain the child financially what should I do?
jjp - 28-Dec-14 @ 9:14 PM
i am separated from my husbandon 2012, and been married since 1997'due to that we have 2 kids thats lives with me and when he left out of state i applied for government housing,welfare for my kids and i to survive because their father never send. any financial help,so i filed for child support all along we know that he was working as a truck driver in utah and now he's back in vegas, for 1 year he havent seen my kids ,,my daughter dont want to see him because of what have happen, he always say he will take the kids from me,called a police on me and he told my neighbor that he will call a CPS on me because we dont have a electricity due to nv nevada transferred his delingquent account owed 1,400.00 and to my electric bill account and wanted me to be rsponsible for his bill,,, pls help me me and my kids are doing okay until their dad enter our life again,,,,,what can i do?
shirley - 2-Feb-14 @ 5:46 AM
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