In most proceedings concerning arrangements for children in England and Wales, the Court is required to consider the welfare of the child when making decision concerning the child’s future. Section 1(5) of the Children Act 1989 provides that the Court must only make an order for a child if this is better for the child than not making an order; this is sometimes referred to as the ‘No Order Principle’. During most family proceedings, the Court will consider the welfare of the child and should always consider whether making an Order would be in the best interests for the child before doing so.
Why might the Court decide not to make an Order?
The Court may decide not to impose a detailed order regulating arrangements for a child if it considers that there needs to be a degree of flexibility between separated parents. Depending on the age of the child, the Court may give particular weight to what the child wants. In all standard cases the Court will consider the welfare needs of the child and will not make an order unless it is in the child’s interests that it should do so.
Under what circumstances might the Court decide to make an Order?
If parents are in dispute regarding their child, or previous agreements have broken down, the Court may consider it necessary to make orders compelling the parents to adhere to arrangements about where the child should live and how much time the child should spend with each parent. The Court may also decide to make an order if specific issues need to be determined, for example which school a child should attend. A Court may also make orders if it is satisfied that a particular risk exists, for example that one parent may take a child from the care of the other and refuse to return him or her.
There are a number of reasons why the Court might decide to make an order regarding children in family proceedings. Every decision taken by the Court in family proceedings is tailored to the specific circumstances before it and in almost every case the Court’s paramount consideration must be the child’s welfare.