Breach of Child Arrangement Order - What You Can Do

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If your former partner breaks the terms of your Child Arrangement Order, you should:

  1. Discuss the issues with your former partner, if it’s safe to do so
  2. Get legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor on what steps you should take if you can’t agree with your former partner
  3. Take your issues to Court if your former partner continues to breach the Order

Most Child Arrangement Orders have a degree of flexibility that allows parents to agree on one off changes. If you and your child’s other parent agree to make changes to the Order informally, it wouldn’t be a breach to move away from the Order’s terms. But these changes won’t be legally binding.

If you and your former partner haven’t agreed on any short term changes, but one parent is consistently not following the terms of the Child Arrangement Order, you might be able to make an application to the Family Court to enforce the Order.

Our Family Law Solicitors are experts at handling child care disputes and we can help you if your ex has breached your Child Arrangement Order.

We’ll advise you what steps you should take based on the other parent’s behaviour and we will always make sure your child’s wellbeing is our first priority. Get in touch for initial legal advice on your child care issue.

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Breach of Child Arrangement Order

A Child Arrangement Order is legally binding in England and Wales and if your child’s other parent has breached the Order you can take this issue to Court, but this may be time consuming and can get expensive.

So speaking to your former partner and then getting help from a mediator or legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor should always be your first steps.

Your Family Solicitor might suggest making an application to Court, but this will depend on your situation. This might include:

  • Varying your Child Arrangement Order
  • Applying for an Enforcement Order

Let’s look at what each of these means for you.

Varying a Child Arrangement Order

The arrangements put in place in the Child Arrangement Order might need updating as your child gets older and their needs change. A change in your child’s circumstances might be the reason your former partner has broken your agreement.

If this is the case, you can either:

  • Try mediation to update the arrangements to reflect the child’s current needs
  • Try to agree the arrangements directly with your other parent or with the help of a Solicitor
  • Make an application to vary the terms of the Order

It’s important to know that if you apply to vary the Order that is already in place, you must be able to show the Court that the changes you want to make are in your child’s the best interests as this is always the Court’s top priority.

Enforcing a Child Arrangement Order

In order to have the terms of your Child Arrangement Order enforced, the Court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • Your child’s other parent has failed to comply with the Child Arrangement Order
  • These breaches are consistent and significant – if the Order is only breached occasionally the Court might not enforce it
  • There is no reasonable excuse for the other parent to consistently breach the Child Arrangement Order

If you’re applying for an Enforcement Order, getting advice from a Family Law Solicitor could be crucial in proving to the Court why the Order should not have been breached.

This is a very serious issue and the Court won’t put an Enforcement Order in place if there is any reason why they think it isn’t needed. So presenting strong evidence and having legal support could really help your case.

If the Court decides to enforce the Order, they have a wide range of powers which include:

  • Referring both you and the child’s other parent to a Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP) or mediation
  • Vary the existing Child Arrangement Order instead
  • Make a Court Order to compensate you for any financial loss you have suffered
  • Fine the person who is consistently breaching the Order
  • Make an Enforcement Order for the breaching parent to take on unpaid work
  • Sentence the person who has broken the agreement to prison time, although it’s important to know that committing a person to prison is very much a last resort option as imprisoning a parent can conflict with the Court’s duty to act in the child’s best interests

The actions that the Court choose to take are completely dependent on your circumstances and how your former partner has breached your Child Arrangement Order.

Our Family Law Solicitors are experts and we can advise you based on your family’s situation. We will always work in the best interests of the child and we can support you if you need to make an application to Court or take on the whole application process for you.

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