Q. My ex took me to Court last year to get access to our children. We agreed he would see them every weekend, but now he fails to turn up most weeks because he chooses instead to go out drinking all weekend. The children understandably get very upset when he doesn’t turn up. Can I stop the contact?
A. A Child Arrangements Order sets out living arrangements for a child and specifies time to be spent with or in contact with another person. If such an Order is in place and you fail to do what it says you may be sent to prison and/or fined, made to do unpaid work or pay financial compensation.
To deny their father contact with the children would be a breach of the Order and their father could then make an application to the Court for an enforcement Order. To grant an enforcement Order, the Court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the Child Arrangements Order. The burden of proof then lies with the person who is alleged to have breached the Order to prove that they had reasonable grounds to breach the Order.
At present, in theory, you could apply to the Court for an enforcement Order as it could easily be argued that the father is breaching the Order and not you. If the father is simply not adhering to the Order for no good reason and this is obviously having an impact upon the children, then the best course of action would be for you to make an application to the Court to vary the existing order.
Firstly, though, you would need to attend at mediation to attempt to reach agreement. If mediation failed, then you could make your application to the Court.