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Ask The Legal Expert - Breaching a Child Arrangement Order

View profile for Jill Bulteel
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Child Arrangements Orders can be a vital tool in helping separated families settle their domestic differences, and in helping children to enjoy stability.

My ex-wife and I have a Child Arrangement Order that sees our 14-year-old daughter spending alternate weekends with me. Increasingly, my ex is arranging activities for our daughter during ‘my weekends’. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but I’m scared of losing my bond with her. What can I do?

The ideal scenario is for you and your ex-wife to discuss this in a reasoned way, to see if you can resolve the issue without going back to Court.

If you are on fairly good terms, you may be able to make her see that regular contact with you is important for your daughter. Find out if there are genuine reasons why the Order has been breached. Would it be sensible to request that the Court alters your original agreement, in a way that suits you all better? Alternatively, you can agree to vary the Order by consent and confirm this new arrangement in writing. This will avoid the need to go back to Court.

In light of your daughters' age, it is worth trying to speak with her in an age-appropriate way about what she wants and how you can support her with activities she wants to do during times she is due to be in your care. If you return the matter to Court her wishes are likely to be taken into account.

If this isn’t viable, you may have to ask the Court to deal with the breach via an Enforcement Order. A legal professional can guide you through this process. You can help by keeping a record of all breaches of the terms of your Order, to date.

The person breaching the order is in Contempt of Court. However, it is unlikely the Court will take action unless it feels these breaches are substantial, intentional and that there is no reasonable excuse for the Order to have been broken.

Evidence of a series of breaches may prompt the Court to reprimand your ex-wife and/or to alter the Order. The Court can impose penalties, including unpaid work, a fine or, in the most serious cases, it can transfer residence to you, or impose a prison term. However, the Court will, at all times, seek a resolution that is in your child’s best interests.

For more information, contact Jill on: 01443 490880 or:

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The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.