When considering whether it should make an order, the court must only do so if this would be better than making no order at all. This is more commonly known as the “No Order Principle”.
The current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly playing havoc with everyone’s routines and juggling the various personal commitments and responsibilities is proving a new challenge for all. The added stresses and strains on family life are inevitably showing, and we are seeing that separated families are finding agreeing the arrangements for children to spend time in each household more and more challenging.
Trying to ensure compliance with government protocol is in itself often not the most straightforward. People are looking for guidance as to how to resolve disputes and ensure that children can keep seeing each of their parents.
What are the rules for children during Covid?
The guidance is at least fairly clear in that respect – children of separated families can continue to pass between households as an exemption from the third national lockdown rules. There can be reasons however to depart from this, and so it is not one size fits all.
It is important to recognise, however, that resorting to the Family Court when an agreement cannot be reached shouldn’t be the first port of call, and it is important to try to reach agreement through other avenues if possible, such as by mediation or collaboration.
What is the “No Order Principle”?
If a court application is necessary, however, the court will be guided by the principles in the Children Act 1989 when determining what is in the best interests of the child or children.
When considering whether it should make an order, the court must also ensure that it should only do so if this would be better than making no order at all. This is more commonly known as the “No Order Principle”. This is the policy that the court will not intervene and make an order unless it can be shown that it would be in the child’s best interests to do so.
It is important to remember that when a court is looking at issues relating to children, the judge has a discretion, bearing in mind always that the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration.
The ‘no order principle’ does not create a presumption one way or the other, but asks the court to consider whether there will be a benefit to the child if the order was made.
It is intended that the principle will discourage unnecessary orders being made and to promote parental cooperation and agreement. Given the current pressures upon the court system brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, it is even more worthwhile considering ways of trying to find agreement and see if an arrangement can be reached that meets the best interests of your children.
Further information on child arrangements and Coronavirus is available here: