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  • Mother not complying with court order/father not complying with court order

    If you are experiencing difficulties with a child arrangements order, including minor or major breaches, it is advisable to keep a diary of these. This means you will have a clear picture of the difficulties you have faced.

    Then, try and discuss the breach or breaches with the other parent in the hope that you can reach an agreement without having to return to court. The court process can be stressful, timely and expensive, which even a parent in breach of a court order may want to avoid.

    Another option is to use mediation as a neutral forum with a third-party to try and resolve the disagreements. This approach costs less, is less stressful, and is quicker to arrange.

    However, in some cases, it is not possible to discuss or agree on arrangements and therefore, the matters must be returned to the court to enforce the original order. A family lawyer can help you in this regard.

  • How to report a breach of court order (UK)

    An application for enforcement of a court order is made on a Form C79.

    Enforcement proceedings must be dealt with without delay and if possible, listed before the judge that dealt with matters previously. A hearing will be listed within 20 working days of the application been issued.

    What will the court consider when deciding to enforce an order? 

    Once the court receives an application to enforce a child arrangements order, they will consider the following:

    • Whether the facts for the alleged non-compliance are agreed or whether it is necessary to conduct a hearing to establish them
    • The reasons for any non-compliance
    • The wishes and feelings of the child
    • Whether any advice is required from Cafcass on the appropriate way forward
    • Assess and manage any risks of making further or other child arrangements orders
    • Whether a separated parents information programme or referral for dispute resolution is appropriate
    • Whether an enforcement order may be appropriate and
    • The welfare checklist
  • What happens if you ignore a family court order?

    At the top of all child arrangements orders, there is a warning notice that sets out the consequences to both parties about what will happen if they do not comply with the order.

    There are several powers available to the court when considering an application to enforce and these are as follows:

    • Referral of both parents to a separated parents information programme or mediation
    • Unpaid work requirement of between 40 and 200 hours where the court is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that one party has failed to comply with a provision of the order
    • Committal to prison (in very rare/serious cases)
    • Changing which party the child or children live with (in very extreme/serious cases)/variation of the child arrangements order to include a more defined order
    • A fine
    • An order for compensation for financial loss
    • A contact enforcement order or suspended enforcement order

Can you change a final court order?

If circumstances change once a child arrangements order has been made, then it might be necessary to ask the court to vary the order if an agreement cannot be reached between the parents.

You will need to complete a C100 application form and explain why you are asking the court to vary the current child arrangements order.

The court will only vary a child arrangements order if they consider it to be in the best interests of the child to do so.

Can a family court order be overturned?

It is possible to appeal decisions made by the family court, and I would advise anyone considering this to take legal advice on their individual circumstances.

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