What happens if I don’t stick to a child arrangement order?

If you do not stick to a child arrangements order an application can be made for an enforcement order. If the application is successful and the court enforces the order, you may be found “in contempt of court” for not adhering to the terms of the child arrangements order which can lead to consequences. 

Your ex-partner can apply for an enforcement order if you are not following the agreed arrangements.  The responsibility is on you to show that you have a reasonable excuse for breaching the terms of the order.

For instance, you may turn up late to contact meetings or not at all, you may not follow the agreed plans, or take your child on holiday without getting permission from the other parent.

If the court finds that you have breached the arrangements, it may demand that you do 40-200 hours of unpaid work or that you may have to pay back any money that has been lost as a result of not following the child arrangements order. In very rare cases, breaching an order could result in imprisonment.

On the other hand, the court may not agree to enforce the order if they believe that you had good reason to not stick to the arrangements or if it is in the best interests of your children to come to another arrangement.

When can an application for an enforcement order be made?

In order to apply for an enforcement order, there must be a child arrangements order already in place and the order must contain a warning notice. Usually, warning notices are attached to child arrangements orders that have been issued after 8th December 2008. If there is no warning notice attached to the order, this must be applied for first.

This is because the court is unable to grant an enforcement order or implement an order for financial compensation unless parties have been warned of the consequences first.

The court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the individual did not stick to the child arrangements order.

What happens if I don’t stick to the enforcement order?

If the enforcement order is broken and the court is satisfied that you do not have a reasonable excuse for this, it could make a further enforcement order called a “second-order”. This may result in extra hours being added to the unpaid work requirement for instance.  

How to apply for an enforcement order

An enforcement order can be applied for by completing form C79 and sending it to the nearest family court. There is a cost of £232 to make the application. 

It is a good idea to seek legal advice first before making an application. If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family law experts today.

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