Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families


When the needs of the child are satisfied a base for proper development and growth are met. This need includes security and a loving environment which are provided by the parents for the child’s stability and development. Unfortunately, some parents cannot, or lack the skills to care for their children. As a result, their children miss out on solid family background; they are not founded on confidence, security, and love, factors such as illness, psychological problems, or personal instability. Such a parent or family cannot fulfill their parental role, which contributes to the development of substitute families. Substitute family care is a term for non-institutional childcare where a child is placed in when for various reasons, they cannot get care from their biological parent. They are raised by persons other than their parents in an environment similar to their ideal family. While natural families, have fixed membership and are well defined by marriage and birth. The two designate individuals as a member of a family. In a natural family, parents provide a good environment for their children’s stability and development. The children are raised on solid backgrounds founded on love, care, and security.

The Legal Differences Between Children in Natural Family Settings and Substitute Family Settings

The European Court of Human Rights has been influential in shaping judicial decisions and legislation in the UK. It represents a measure of how agencies working with families should work professionally. The protection for children extended by the convection means must be provided for in the legislation in search of a legitimate aim, for instance, to protect a child from substantial harm, the intervention must be bound to what is necessary to achieve the legitimate aim sought. Child welfare must be paramount, Courts strike a balance on children’s legitimate interest.

During the last three decades, child deaths and failures in services for children shifted critical attention to child care and protection practices. Concerns emerged about agencies’ emphasis on child protection at the expense of preventive services for families, and research highlighted the poor outcomes for many children in care. Legislation across the UK sought to tackle these menace and foster parents’ responsibilities for their children. In Scotland national reviews of family and adoption law, residential care for children informed proposals for law reform later constituted in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. Although an integrated approach to child welfare and offending were maintained, the 1995 Act introduced court orders for children’s assessment and extended parents’ and children’s rights of appeal against decisions of courts and children’s hearings. It also, removed local authorities’ power to acquire parental rights, without authorization by a court.

In essence, a public authority in a child’s life should be properly justified. The Act promoted a child-centered ethos, it accented those local authorities should act hand in hand with all departments by sharing duties and responsibility in promoting the welfare of children. Moreover, should partner with the parents and children and other agencies providing health and welfare services. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child influenced provisions requiring children to be consulted, and their views to be taken into account, before the public authorities and local authorities make decisions that affect them. For their own sake, when such is not done legislation allows the children to seek justice through the courts.


In conclusion, UNCRC compliance forms a bare minimum in ensuring that public authorities can positively regulate any commercial activities and ensure all children’s rights are respected. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill paves the way to effect rights as far as possible. Lastly, it highlights the gaps that exist in human rights regimes across the UK. There are considerable differences between children in natural and substitute families.

Reference List

Gadda, A. M., Harris, J., Tisdall, E. K. M., Millership, E., & Kilkelly, U. Human rights’ monitoring and implementation: How to make rights real in children’s lives. The International Journal of Human Rights, 23(3), 2019, p.317-322.

Morrison, F., McCormack, M., & Tisdall, K., Response to call for views on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill. Edinburgh, 2020, p. 36.

Nolan, D., Dyer, F., & Vaswani, N., ‘Just a wee boy not cut out for prison’: Policy and reality in children and young people’s journeys through justice in Scotland. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 2018, 18(5), 533-547.

Radford, L., Dodd, S., Barter, C., Stanley, N., & Akhlaq, A., The abuse of children in care in Scotland: A research review, 2017, p. 56

Sime, D., Fassetta, G., & McClung, M., ‘It’s good enough that our children are accepted’: Roma mothers’ views of children’s educationpost-migrationn. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 2018, 39(3), 316-332.

Stark, B., International family law: An introduction. Routledge, 2017, p. 75.

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"Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families." LawBirdie, 31 May 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families'. 31 May.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families." May 31, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families." May 31, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Legal Differences Between Natural and Substitute Families." May 31, 2023.