On occasions when Child Arrangements Orders have been granted either party feel the need to return the matter to Court to enforce if an Order is not being abided by. Judges have been reluctant to do so for fear of worsening the conflict between the child’s parents. Although powers exist to imprison parents who breach contact orders, and to transfer residence/custody to the other parent, the courts feel that to do so conflicts with their duty to make orders which are in the child’s best interests. The following applies if an application is required for enforcement.
If someone has failed to keep to a child arrangements order you may want to ask the family court to enforce the order. If a child arrangements order has been broken without a reasonable excuse, you may apply to the family court: for a community-based order requiring a person to carry out unpaid work (this is known as an ‘enforcement order’); or to award financial compensation from one person to another. For example, if the cost of a holiday has been lost as a result of a contact order being broken, the person who has lost the money can apply to the court for a financial compensation order.
Making Enforcement Applications
Application made if warning notice to a contact order has been breached.
Court can impose an unpaid work requirement (40-200 hrs) (also known as community service).
Court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that there is no reasonable excuse for non-compliance with the contact order.
The court will consider:
- Necessity of enforcement order to ensure compliance
- Likely effect including on religious beliefs or education/work arrangements
- Availability of locally unpaid work
- Welfare of child
- CAFCASS will be sent a copy of application and make checks as to reported non-compliance.
The Court may also consider Compensation for Financial Loss
This part of the new law sought to deal with those concerns:
- A party may make an application for compensation of loss caused by the other party’s non-compliance with terms of the order.
- Welfare of child considered by the Court.
- Court can request information from CAFCASS as to welfare of child in relation to affect of one party paying compensation.