Child Arrangements Order – What to do if it is breached

Child Arrangements Order – What to do if it is breached

What to do if your Child Arrangements Order is breached

Sometimes when parents can’t agree on certain issues with respect to their children, it becomes necessary to seek a Child Arrangements Order from the Court. We take a look at what happens if one party breaches this legally binding order.

This Order sets out certain details for the child/children and includes with whom the child should live and also what contact arrangements are in place for the benefit of that child (to spend time with its parents). Sometimes, such an Order can require a child not to be taken out of the country, for instance, or stop one parent changing the school of the child.

Arrangements are often agreed upon between parents, sometimes by way of negotiation or with the assistance of mediation. Once an agreement is reached, the parties’ solicitors will ask the court to seal them into a binding Child Arrangements Order. Alternatively, it may be necessary to ask the court to rule on the matter and make an Order. Either way, both parties must abide by the terms of the Order, which will have a warning to this effect at its end.

Breach of a Child Arrangements Order

If one party breaches the Order, ideally this will be sorted out between the parties (depending upon how serious the breach may be). The Court prefers not to have to intervene in issues relating to children wherever possible.

Initially, you should keep a record of any breaches that occur, so that you can refer to these in the future, if necessary. It will also give you and a Mediator or Court a fuller picture of what has happened.

Wherever possible, you are advised to communicate with the other parent and try to establish why the breaches have taken place. It may be possible to agree to a change in the agreement and have this approved by the Court. An experienced Family Law solicitor will be able to suggest ways of resolving matters and negotiate on your behalf where necessary.

If you cannot reach an agreement and the Order is still being breached, you will generally be advised to attempt mediation. This involves going before a neutral mediator who will work with both parents to try and find an acceptable solution. If this is not successful, then you can ask the Court to intervene.

The powers of the court in dealing with a breach of Child Arrangements Order

The Court will consider the nature and extent of any breaches of Child Arrangements Orders in imposing penalties. It has the power to order between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work as well as payment of financial compensation by the party in breach to the other parent or a fine payable to the Court.

In more serious cases, it can transfer residence of the child to the other party or in extreme circumstances order a prison sentence.

The aim of the Order and the Court is to ensure that one parent cannot cut the other parent out of their child’s life or damage their relationship with their child. It is the Court’s intention that a child has a meaningful relationship with both of their parents and the actions it takes will be intended to facilitate this, rather than simply to impose punishment.

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