18 May 2021

What happens if a parent breaches family court order?

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Where a marriage has broken down and the divorced couple have been unable to agree to an arrangement for their child, they may apply for a child arrangement order to clarify where the child may live and how contact can be had with the child.

Where such an order is issued by the court it is binding and any breach of it will be contempt of court.

Where a breach has occurred, there are a few options for the non-defaulting parent to consider when thinking about remedying the breach. Firstly, the parents may decide to resolve the breach out of court through alternative dispute resolution such as mediation where a neutral third party can help them narrow down and resolve issues. Where this is not possible or where mediation has been unsuccessful, the non-defaulting may consider enforcing the order against the defaulting parent.

To enforce a court order, an application will need to be made as quickly as possible. This will lead to a hearing being listed where the court will consider the version of events of both parents. It is advisable to keep a record of any breaches.

Where the court finds that a breach did occur, the court has a wide range of powers to enforce the order and address any breach. These include:

  • fines
  • referral of parents to a separated parents programme
  • an order for compensation for financial loss
  • an order requiring the defaulting parent to carry out unpaid work
  • imprisonment in very rare cases
  • enforcement order

A child arrangement order, therefore, gives parents both a sense of security and a method of enforcing any terms agreed.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Mahnoor has extensive experience in dealing with various types of in-country and out-of-country immigration matters. This includes advising and assisting clients on a vast spectrum of immigration applications, ranging from Entry Clearance to British citizenship.

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