Enforcement Orders in Family Law: An Introduction
What is a Child Arrangement Order?
A Child Arrangements Order refers to an order that will administer or regulate who the a child lives, spends time or has contact with and when the child will have to live, spend time with, or when to contact with any person. It is generally made after two parents separate or divorce , and can be ordered by the court, or decided in Family Mediation.
Child Arrangement Orders are decided based on the circumstances of each individual family and are in the best interest and welfare of the child. The Child Arrangement Orders are governed under Section 8 of the Children Act, 1989.
Can a Child Arrangement Order be enforced?
If the Court finds out that Child Arrangement Order has been breached without any reasonable cause, then the court has the power to issue a number of sanctions to the breaching party.
These sanctions may range from unpaid work to fines and curfews. However, in case of serious issues, the court can even order imprisonment for contempt of court. Also, the court can order the CAFCASS to check if all the parties are complying with the Child Arrangement Order that has been issued to them.
What is an Enforcement Order Family Law?
An enforcement order is an order made by a court. The family court may issue an Enforcement Order as a penalty for a parent/ someone with parental responsibility who has breached a Child Arrangement Order . They will always check if the claim of a breach of the order is true or not, and if it is reasonable.
An enforcement order can be obtained if one of the parents is failing to comply with the court order, therefore breaching it. If the order is made, the breaching party may be forced to do between 40-200 hours of unpaid work, or other punishments in extreme cases.
What happens if a Parent Breaches a Child Arrangement Order?
It is to be noted that Child Arrangement Orders are legally binding. If one of the parties are no longer complying with the Child Arrangement Order, then the court may enforce the order.
If a parent has breached the order, and the other parent puts in an Enforcement Application to the court, the the court will schedule a preliminary hearing where they will consider the reasons behind the breach and whether CAFCASS need to be involved.
At the conclusion of this hearing, the Court will determine whether the Child Arrangement Order had been breached without a reasonable cause. If the court decides there was no logical reason for the breach, there can be a number of possible steps that the court can take.
The court may issue a Contact Enforcement Order or impose a penalty or fine or any other punishment to the breaching party.
Alternatively, the court may also reconsider the terms of the order and issue it again with certain variations.
When will the Court not make an Enforcement Order after a breach of a Child Arrangement Order?
The court must be convinced that the breach of the Child Arrangement Order is serious enough to warrant an enforcement order.
They will focus on what is in the best interests of the child, looking at this factor before looking at everything else. If a breach was made in the best interest of a child, then the court will make allowances for the parent.
Will I go to jail for breaching a Child Arrangement Order?
In serious cases where there has been a breach of a Child Arrangement Order which has a negative effect on the wellbeing of the child in question, the court has sanctioned the breach with a prison sentence, fine or warning.
This is reserved for extreme situations, and also repeat offenders. It is not customary to send people to jail over the breach of a court orders.
Can you ignore a Family Court Order?
Generally, No, one cannot ignore a Family Court Order. Ignoring a court order will be termed as failure to obey a court order and it is held in contempt of court. Contempt of court is punishable as an offense.
However, the Court will always take in regard what is best for the welfare of a child, and if a Family Law Order is broken in the best interest of the child, or to ensure the safety of the child, then the court may make the decision not to punish the party in breach.
How long does it take to enforce a Child Arrangements Order?
The length of time to enforce a Child Arrangement Order depends on certain factors that include the amicable involvement of parents and guardians, the complexity of the case, and whether there have been any concerns relating to the child
After making an application, you will have 20 days until an initial hearing. After this, it depends on if you will need follow up hearings before a final judgment is made. Even once the enforcement order is made, there will be a statutory waiting period so an appeal can be filed. This will not be more than four weeks.
How long does a C79 form take to process?
The application for an Enforcement Order is the C79, and can be found on the gov.uk website here.
Once an application is made on Form C79, it has to be submitted within at least 14 days before the hearing. The form will be handled by the court and the hearing must be listed within 20 working days from the date of issue.
Can the police enforce a child arrangement order in the UK?
It is possible for the police to get involved in disputes related to child arrangement orders in the UK for example, when the child is handed over from one parent to another.
Though the enforcement of Civil Court Orders is not generally the police’s job, they can and will take action if it is necessary in ensuring the safety of the child in question.
Note: This article is not legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.