Keeping to a legal agreement
A Child Arrangements Order is an order made by the court stating where children will live and how and when they will spend time with each parent.
If the terms of the Order are not being met, by one party or the other, there is an option to ask the courts to enforce the Order.
Asking the courts to become involved
When an application is made to the court to enforce a Child Arrangements Order the case is listed for an initial hearing when the court will, amongst other things, consider the reasons for non-compliance, whether CAFCASS need to be involved, whilst of course considering the welfare and best interests of the children involved.
Has there been a breach?
Having considered all of these factors, the Court will decide whether there has been a breach of the Child Arrangements Order without reasonable excuse. At this point the Court has a number of options it can use. The Court could for example, refer the parents to mediation or may decide that a variation of the order is appropriate, this might include reconsidering contact or even living arrangements for the child.
The Court has the option to issue a Contact Enforcement Order, impose fines or in extreme circumstances impose a prison sentence.
The approach taken by the Family Courts
It is frustrating when an ex does not comply with your wishes, even more so when these wishes have already been ordered by the Court but it is almost always better to try and resolve the dispute between yourselves if you possibly can.
The Courts are not necessarily interested in ‘punishing’ the party who is in breach of the order, their concern will always be for the welfare of the child. Therefore, where possible you should try to resolve any practical difficulties and keep dialogue open with your ex, rather than resorting to the lengthy and often costly process of asking the Courts to intervene.
If, however you feel there is no alternative Woolley & Co can help you make a case for a breach of an order and ask the Court to rule on the situation.
For advice on the arrangements for your children on divorce or separation call Woolley & Co family law specialists on 0800 321 3832.