By Laura Ousby, Solicitor
A Child Arrangements Order is a court order regulating arrangements with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact and when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person and is usually the last resort when arrangements cannot be agreed amicably. It is most common for such Orders to be made between mums and dads. The Order ensures that the arrangements for the child are made in the child’s best interests.
Sometimes, a parent fails to comply with the contact arrangements as set out in the Order. If this happens, the other parent may wish to make a further application to the Court to enforce the Order. For an Order to be enforceable, it must contain a warning notice setting out the consequences of breaching the Order. Failure to comply with an Order can lead to a fine, prison, unpaid work or the payment of compensation.
When considering whether to make an Enforcement Order, it needs to be considered whether you think the person who is in breach of the Child Arrangement Order has a reasonable excuse. Such a reasonable excuse could be that the child was unwell or there were transport problems. The Court will not make an Enforcement Order if the person in breach can prove that they had a reasonable excuse.
The person in breach may allege that the child did not want to see you because of something you have done during visits. In this case, the Court will likely direct at the hearing that you each provide witness statements setting out your side of events and may ask CAFCASS (the Family Court Advisors) to provide a report containing recommendations for future arrangements and whether an Enforcement Order would be appropriate.
Alternatively, the Court may consider whether it is appropriate for the parties to attend Mediation so that arrangements that are suitable to both parties can be agreed.
If you would like to talk to a solicitor about the arrangements for your child or children or any issue considered above, contact Laura Ousby in our family team on 01228 516666 or click here to email Laura direct.