Q. I have a court order which sets out very clearly when I can see my children who live with their mother, my ex-wife. The problem is that my ex picks and chooses which part of the order she complies with and I just don’t know what to do. Can she be punished?
A. If a Child Arrangements Order has been made and is not being complied with, there is provision to enable the order to be enforced. The court must however first be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the Child Arrangements Order. The court has to take into account the welfare of the child concerned and be satisfied that the making of any order is necessary to ensure compliance and that the enforcement order is proportionate to the breach.
Where it is found that a person has failed to comply with a Child Arrangements Order the court can consider whether to make an order that requires the person who has breached the order to undertake between 40 – 200 hours of unpaid work. The court may suspend the Enforcement Order on the basis that if the order is breached a second time the Enforcement Order will kick in and the breacher will have to undertake the unpaid work.
If the person in breach of the order has failed to comply with a Contact Order without a reasonable excuse, and this causes financial loss for the person seeking to enforce the order, the court may make an order for the person who has not complied with the order to pay compensation to the person seeking to enforce the order. You should consult with a good family lawyer to discuss your options.
(Article published 11.09.2017)