Even if a break-up has been particularly difficult and protracted, many parents manage to make amicable arrangements for the children to have contact with the other parent. However if parents cannot agree on suitable arrangements, then the courts will often be required to intervene and make a Contact Order.

Even with this order in place situations arise where a parent refuses to comply with Contact Order.  When this happens we are posed with the issue of what sanctions can the Court impose when the parent who the child lives with regularly, repeatedly and willfully refusing to comply with a Contact Order.

In those situations, there are a number of sanctions which are available to the Court including:-

  • Imposing contact activities such as such as parenting classes
  • Requiring Cafcass officers to monitor a person’s compliance and report back to the Court
  • Imposing curfews, electronic tagging and/or unpaid work
  • Ordering financial compensation be paid for losses sustained by the failure to comply with an order
  • Transferring residence of the child either immediately or on a suspended basis i.e. the Court suspend the change of residence unless or until the original resident parent breaches the Contact Order again
  • Ultimately the Court could commit someone to prison for contempt of Court

Whether a sanction is appropriate, and if so, which sanction is applied will depend on the circumstances in each case. If you have the benefit of a Contact Order, but are concerned that it is not being adhered to, you should take advice as early as possible and remember that the best interests of the child or children involved should always be your first priority.

Sarah Walls is an associate in the family team in Exeter. Our family law team has been ranked as the best in Devon and Cornwall by Chambers and The Legal 500, the two leading independent legal guides. Sarah can be contacted on 01392 210700, by email solicitors@stephens-scown.co.uk