Following the court granting a Child Arrangement Order there are circumstances where you may find that one party is not adhering to the terms of the court order. Child Arrangements Orders are legally binding therefore any failure to adhere to the terms of the order will be classified as a breach.
Before Making an Application for Enforcement
When seeking to enforce child arrangements order the court will have to account for various factors in order to be satisfied that the application for enforcement was in fact necessary. Some of the factors that the court will consider are as follows:
- Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 also known as the ‘Welfare Checklist’.
- What terms of the order have been breached and why?
- How has the breach impacted the facilitation of contact with the child?
- Whether further involvement from CAFCASS may be required to resolve any outstanding issues between the parties.
It is useful to bare this in mind before making an application to avoid applications being made without merit.
The Court Procedure
When applying to the court to enforce child arrangements order a C79 application will need to be filed with the court. Unlike other Section 8 orders there is no prerequisite of attending a MIAM before issuing proceedings for enforcement. However, you will need to ensure that you currently have a court ordered child arrangements order in place and that the enforcement pertains to a breach of that order.
In making an application for enforcement it is useful to note that the court will only make an order for enforcement if they satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of a person’s failure to comply with a provision of a child arrangements order. Therefore, if the court deem a person’s reasons for breaching an order to be reasonable then they may not make an order for enforcement in the applicant’s favour.
The court will also consider whether making an order for enforcement will be necessary to ensure compliance with the ongoing child arrangements order and proportionate to the severity of the breach by that party. Much of these factors rest on the specific facts of a case and the court will use their discretion accordingly.
Who can apply for an enforcement order?
- The person whom the child lives with as per the child arrangements order
- The person with whom the child has contact as per the child arrangements order
- Anyone who a term in the child arrangements order relates to
What are the sanctions can the court order for breaching child arrangements order without reasonable excuse?
- An order to carry out unpaid work between 40 to 200 hours
- An order to pay financial compensation
- A fine
- Imprisonment depending on the severity of the breach
- An order for costs
Q: How much is an enforcement application?
A: The court charge £232 to make an application for enforcement of a child arrangements order.
Q: Do I need to have a warning notice before I can apply for enforcement of a child arrangements order?
A: Yes, a warning notice explicitly states the repercussions of failure to comply with the terms of a child arrangements order. if your child arrangements order does not have a warning notice attached, we would suggest that you apply to the court to have one attached to your current order by filling a C78 application.