Many parents will go through a stressful time in obtaining a Court Order for child arrangements after lengthy proceedings. It can therefore be very frustrating when they finally have a “final” Order and it is not being complied with.
It is important that you consider whether the breach is worth an application to the Court to enforce. You should think about what approach the Court is likely to take should you make an application or whether it is an issue that can be better resolved without the need for the Court’s assistance.
These days Courts are unlikely to be sympathetic if it is a matter that ought to be worked out without the Court’s assistance. The emphasis is on the fact that as parents, you need to find a way of working together for the benefit of your child.
As with any Court applications relating to child arrangements, the welfare of the child is always the priority and it should be considered whether the breach of an Order is significantly impacting the child. CAFCASS will be asked to carry out updating Safeguarding checks, should the child’s welfare remain a concern.
It could be that your ex-partner is not complying with the current Court Order in place without any reason, or perhaps they are making excuses that you do not feel are reasonable.
The first step would be to establish the issues and write to your ex-partner to see whether matters can be settled without the need for taking the matter back to Court. It may become clear at that point that the other parent is unwilling to reinstate contact, is not prepared to discuss alternative arrangements or possibly that there simply needs to be flexibility on both sides.
It could be the case that your contact hasn’t stopped altogether, but time of contact is often lost due to a child being late for contact or the other parent has pre-arranged an event which falls on your contact. For example, the other parent could have been slightly late to contact on a few occasions which could be reasonable in circumstances, such as being held up in traffic or simply getting the child ready to leave. On the other hand, your child may have not been made available for contact on more than one occasion without a reasonable excuse, and if alternate arrangements are not agreed to make up for lost time, this could impact on the relationship between you and your child.
If we are unable to re-establish the terms of the Court Order already in place and an agreement cannot be reached in communicating with your ex-partner, we can seek the Court’s assistance by applying for an Enforcement Order.
An application would be submitted stating how the current Order is not being complied with providing any evidence you may have, and we would ask the Court to make an Enforcement Order to enforce the current arrangements. The Court may reconsider the arrangements and alterations could be made depending on the circumstances.
As well as applying to enforce an Order that is not being complied with, you can also ask the Court to cancel an Enforcement Order, or seek compensation for financial loss should the non-compliance of the Child Arrangements Order have caused you to loose money.
There are a range of different sanctions that an Enforcement Application has. It can be ordered for a parent to carry out community work or depending on the severity of the breach, the Court can consider whether a new Order needs to be made. This can include addressing parental alienation and even a change of who the child shall live with. The Court will consider if they are satisfied that it is beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed to comply with a provision within the current Child Arrangements Order and order such person to carry out unpaid work.
As mentioned above, you will need to consider whether the person not complying with the Order has a reasonable excuse for not doing so.
The Police do not have the power to enforce a contact Order. It is a matter for the Court to consider and decide whether there should be any repercussions for the Order not being complied with. The Court can be reluctant to actually punish someone for breaching an Order and may simply be warned not to do it again. On some occasions, the Court can attach what we call a “Penal Notice” to an Order, which would give the Police the power of arrest, where the person not complying with the Order could be fined or imprisoned.
Should you be having any difficulties with a Court Order already put in place and it is not been complied with by the parent of your child/children and require advice, then please do not hesitate to give us a call and we can advise you further on the possible steps.
Andrew Isaacs Law are here to make the process easier for you and we understand that your family matters.
If you require our assistance, please call 01302 349480 (Doncaster) or 01664 896 218 (Melton Mowbray) or email email@example.com