The Courts are taking breaches of contact orders more seriously. Provisions came into force on 8 December 2008. All contact orders made after that date have a warning notice attached to them making it clear if the order is breached it maybe a contempt of Court and the person in breach can be committed to prison, fined and/or be required to undertake community service.
In order to obtain an enforcement order the Court has to be satisfied that the order has been breached without justification.
The Court also have to be satisfied that the effect of an enforcement order you are seeking is proportionate to the seriousness of the breach.
The following remedies are available to enforce the terms of a contact order:
- The person in breach of the order can ordered to undertake a contact activity – such as a parenting information programme designed to make separated parents understand how their actions could impact upon their children.
- Financial compensation can be awarded from one person to another for losses arising from failure to comply with the order.
- An unpaid work requirement can be imposed on the person who breaches the contact order.
- In some rare circumstances, where the children’s interests are being jeopardised by the breach of the order and their welfare would be better met by living with the other parent the Court has the power to switch residence of the child.
- As a last resort committal to prison is an option, however the impact this could have on the child needs to be taken into consideration to determine whether it is a proportionate action to take.
If an order for contact is breached you should seek legal advice about enforcement proceedings from our specialist team of Family Lawyers.
By Gemma Hope