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Complying with the order of the court and enforcement

If there is a child arrangements order in respect of your child and the other parent named in the order is not complying with the terms of that order, you should always to try to resolve this amicably. Mediation can be helpful (unless there are, or have been, issues of domestic abuse or other risks identified). 

If your attempts at mediation and resolving the matter amicably are not successful, then you can apply to court for the order to be enforced. 

The court will want to know more about why you believe the other parent has broken (or ‘breached’) the terms of the order. If the judge agrees that the terms have been broken then they will want to hear what the other parent’s reasons are. 

If there are no justifiable reasons then the court will consider taking action against that parent in an attempt to make them comply with the order. There are a range of actions available to the court in these circumstances, these include: 

 (a) referral of the parents for Planning Together for Children work , or mediation; 

(b) variation of the child arrangements order (which could include a more defined order and/or reconsidering the child’s living and spending time arrangements); 

(c) a contact enforcement order or suspended enforcement order under section 11J Children Act 1989 ('Enforcement order' for unpaid work); 

(d) an order for compensation for financial loss (under section 11O Children Act 1989); 

(e) committal to prison; or 

(f) a fine 

If the court finds that a breach has occurred and they are considering one of the above measures, especially an unpaid work requirement, then at this point they will sometimes ask Cafcass to write a report on what the impact will be on the child and parents affected by those measures. 

This would usually be a brief piece of work carried out by a Family Court Adviser. Once the court has received this report, they will aim to make their decision without delay.