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Breach of Court Order: What Steps to Take Next?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Nov 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Contact Order Court Warning Notice

Q.

I have a court order in order to see my daughter. In court the times were agreed as to when I get to see my daughter. Her mother keeps changing the times when I can pick her up so is constantly in breach of the court order.

I am not happy with this and there is no reasoning with the mother. How do I take it back to court?

(C.T, 2 April 2009)

A.

Contact Orders

A contact order is a court order which sets out the circumstances in which someone who does not live with a child may see that child. Contact Orders often relate to a parent’s contact with their child but they may also be made in relation to contact with the child’s grandparents, brothers and sisters or other relatives.

Breach of a Contact Order

The odd deviation from the terms of a contact order may be forgiven. However, it can be very frustrating for a parent without custody if the parent with custody seems to be deliberately preventing contact. Talking to the other person should always be the first step. If - as in your case - this gets nowhere, a letter from a solicitor reminding the other person of their obligations may work. If they still refuse to comply, an application may be made to court.

Warning Notices and Enforcing Contact Orders

All contact orders made since 8th December 2008 contain a warning notice setting out the consequences of failure to comply. A contact order varied by a court after this date should also have a warning notice attached. Before applying to enforce a contact order made prior to that date an application must first be made to have a warning notice attached to it.

An application to have a warning notice attached to a contact order is made using form C78 which is available to download from the HMCS (Her Majesty’s Court Service) website.

The Court’s Powers to Enforce a Contact Order

If a court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a breach of a contact order, and that there is no reasonable excuse for the breach, they may make an enforcement order. An enforcement order requires the party in breach to carry out between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work, which will be monitored by the probation service. If breach of the contact order has led to financial loss – for example a cancelled holiday - an application may also be made to the court for financial compensation.

An application for an enforcement order, or for financial compensation, is made using form C79, which may also be downloaded from the HMCS website. The application may be made to the court which made the contact order or to any court which has the power to deal with family cases.

The court also has the power to find that an individual is in contempt of court for failing to comply with a contact order. If a party persistently breaches a contact order they may be held to be in contempt of court and could be committed to prison or fined.

It would be advisable to seek legal advice about your situation before making an application. The Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to provide free legal advice about the steps to take following breach of a contact order.

For more information about family courts and what to expect take a look at our article What Happens at Family Court.

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Hi i need some advice but currently not in a good financial stage in order to speak to a solicitor. I thought il give it a try here. Had some dispute over money and assets. I agree to tomlin order to sign assets over. But one of my assets was a car abroad. For that i had to get a power of attorney. Which i did and past it onto the claiment. Which then the court case was closed and the claiment had 4 months to sell or sign the car over to him. Now 8 months gone claiment saying they need another power of attorney as the previous one has expired.What i want to know is once thats expired due to the claiment own mistakes. Can i still be dragged to Court or be accountable for this?Thank you
Ben - 13-Oct-20 @ 11:13 PM
Court order has been breeched now three times. My ex is stopping me and siblings seeing my boy who's 3 years his remained in my care for three years. I am due back to court on 23 October for next hearing. He is now saying I got to go through contact centre and it's not even been confirmed by the judje. He is using my son against me and saying what ain't written in court order. Can he do this?
Mandy - 11-Oct-20 @ 9:57 AM
Hi I wonder if anyone can help me please my abusive neighbour was summoned to court on the 30th sept and didnt show up he breached an civil injunction the case was adjourned what happens next
Chrissy - 2-Oct-20 @ 2:17 PM
My abusive ex has a court order to see my 3yo but he's mentally destroying her to the point she is now wetting her self having nightmare and is very clingy when she to go to the contact centre she screams until she can't breathe anymore to come home im whiling to do anything to keep her safe and from Having clinic depression as a child and teen I've been fighting soo hard but because heworks for her magisty I gets look at as a angel but he beat me up while I was holding my lo in my arms and had the other child holding my hand
Ell - 23-Sep-20 @ 9:57 AM
My son has been taken by the dad and i have a residency order & contact order - these have been breached & the police wouldn't help either as there is a clause missing saying they could retrieve him, I have now had to start court proceedings again which it costing me ££££ which I really do not have. My son has been gone for 5 weeks now & the dad doesnt want his daughter just our son as he can manipulate him.I have spoken to womens aid and aprantely this is common in absusers as it gives them power still to control you through the children.I do have a good social worker but this man (dad) has waitied till my boy is 12 so he has a voice in court no other interest has been shown up till now, so buying him new iphone quad bike xbox etc my son thinks all his xmas has come at once - my heart is broken but the systems just keep letting me down & I just have to hope I get my son back so he doesnt grow up like his father (I know there is very good dads out there) but my childs father is a monster!!! My poor little girl has lost her big brother who she loves so much as he has cut my son off from even speaking to her too :(
Sam - 4-Sep-20 @ 10:38 AM
My ex is constantly breaking the court order e.g.taking the children away for the weekend (his weekend), when the CO states that he has to give me notice and information as to where they are going etc. I have spoken to my solicitor who said that I will have to pay to take him back to court for the Judge to hear about the breach of the CO.This is probably the reason he is doing it as he knows that I can't afford to do it (he took me to court originally).Surely this is wrong on every level!
Katherine - 14-Aug-20 @ 9:54 AM
I was financially and emotionally abused by my ex husband. His family were very overpowering and I always feared leaving as I knew it would be ugly. I did eventually leave and it took a year for my oldest son to be brainwashed, I haven’t seen him in 18 months and my youngest held out till he couldn’t take anymore and I haven’t seen him properly since March. There is a court order in place and not worth the paper it’s written. Cafcass were award I was financially and emotionally abused and that meant nothing.
Singer7 - 5-Aug-20 @ 10:03 PM
Me and my ex ended up in court in Jan 2019 for a child contact order due to him repeatedly letting my boys down in seeing them and wanting to change days/times all the time. Since March he's stopped seeing them due to pandemic. Now he wants to change current order in place from every Wednesday to no Wednesday's at all and from every other Friday school pick up to Monday school drop off to Friday 6pm to Sunday 6pm only, even though he's not even working. I don't know what I can do regarding current order without incurring extra charges on top of the nearly 3k I've already paid for it. The current order in place seems to be worth nothing as if it's breached it's not enforceable without court charging you extra to enforce it! It's ridiculous!
Lizm8618 - 10-Jul-20 @ 10:42 AM
Hi my ex is not Letting me see my kids I have a court order to see them every fortnight but ex isn't letting me see them what can I do has I need to see my kids he said he don't care what the court says ?? ?? I can't phone my kids he says so what can I do next has I need to see them
Don't have one - 29-Jun-20 @ 6:50 PM
Thats not a clear answer... Occasional can be regularly occurring so why confuse the issue? People are here because its a constant thing thats happening and thats why people are here, to know what they need to do, so you should dispense with the other unrelated stuff because you can "Assume" that its happening regularly, therefore this is typical course of action... and state clearly in a list what steps people take. I got next to FA help from the family court, claiming I need to pay £200 for the existing order and I am like are you for real???
\\.\ - 24-Jun-20 @ 2:58 PM
I had an argument with my ex partner as she stopped me having contact with my son, I have parental responsibility and so I tried to go to his school before she picked him up but on parking she was there also. We ended up arguing as I had safeguarding concerns due to her spending time with various drug dealers and also having them around her house when my child was present. I told social services about this and also her neighbour informed social services of her excessive drinking and partying and still nothing was done. When we argued i told her to grow up and think about our child’s safety as to which she flew an angry fit and shouted in my face, I pushed her back as she grabbed my jacket and prodded her forehead whilst I said think about your actions. She called the police and told them I beat her up, they brought me in for questioning and released me with a caution but now to new court rules if there is a report of domestic abuse it goes straight to court despite the police believing me and not her lies, the court charged me to my disbelief and everyone else’s as she lied on the stand, so I got fined and had to do community service despite the court hearing her lie on stand and her so called 2 witnesses not turning up to court. Since then I’ve had to apply to the family law court where I got an order in place to see my son mon/fri sleepovers as well as in time in the holidays, despite the order she breached it continuously and has now stopped me speaking to my son on his mobile as she’s blocked me and his grandparents on his phone, my son tried to speak to me on his Xbox instead and she has threatened him by saying if he contacts me on his Xbox then he’s not allowed on it! All this because she’s jealous of my current partner of 5yrs and the relationship my son has with her. I’m trying to find out if I can get the police involved for the breaches of my court order?, I’ve already had to report her 4 times during lockdown due to her breaching the guidelines
Day1 - 24-Jun-20 @ 12:50 PM
I have 2 sons 1 on an sgo order the other whos adopted my foster sister who has the sgo has breeched my contact with him and the adoption agency and adoptees have breeched the letterbox contact can i take legal action against them
shaunturley1 - 14-Jun-20 @ 3:27 AM
My sons have been put on an sgo with my foster sister but she breached contact regulations with my son my other me and my family and his fathers family are supposed to have yearly letterbox contact but the adoption agency and adoptees have breeched this can i take legal action against them
shaunturley1 - 14-Jun-20 @ 3:24 AM
I've now breached a prohibited steps order twice because my ex has broken lockdown rules. Shes had her neighbour (friend) around her house daily. But at the start if the break out said I couldn't see my son because it was too dangerous. She introduced her new boyfriend to my son during lockdown (I dont have a problem with her having a boyfriend) she had her friends kids there playing with my son while her boyfriend was there keeping him occupied. I found out my eldest is selling drugs and he was living with her he nearly got kidnapped going to get them. I had a call from caffcas an hour before the telephone hearing asking me to get them to adjourn the hearing and leave my son In my care as they have serious concerns over mother. The courts heard what the solicitor said heard what I said and put a prohibited steps order out in me and my eldest who had to go to live with his sister. I removed him again a month later and the same thing again the solicitor spoke she got heard becasue I sent her a nasty email she sent it to court. They ignored me and the welfare of my child and caffcas and ordered me to take him home again with no contact between now and the next hearing. I have refused to take him back. The police turned up and tried to bully me into handing him over threats of arrest. I'd already spoken to the switch board and they told me all they could do is a welfare check and leave they have no power to remove a child from a parent with parental responsibility without welfare concerns. They left after inspecting my house and garden and saw my son happily playing on his bike in the back garden. I'm now waiting to see what the court do next. I refuse to put my child in danger with a woman who has admitted to having people in her house from day one of the outbreak. Thet clearly donr care about my childs life and safety or welfare. I put an emergency residency order in and it certainly hasnt been treated as an emergency. All theres applications go through in days mine was two months after I applied and paid for the c100. That's equality and fair hearings for you.
Andy - 8-Jun-20 @ 1:24 AM
Hi, I have been separated for 10years and it has been 10years of hell. I have been through the court systems twice, it has cost £14,000 plus and yet my ex has stopped even my FaceTime chats with my daughter. I have contacted numerous organisations and they just say it’s not there problem and I have to go back to court. I can not afford to go back to court so I have to give up any idea of seeing my daughter, even though I have a court order. I haven’t spoken to my daughter for over a year, of course covid hasn’t helped but her mother has taken full advantage of the situation as I live in the Channel Islands and she lives in England. I think the whole system is terrible
Jeff - 29-May-20 @ 10:45 AM
Hello all. I am a mother who was abused by my ex. Cafcass and the court wouldn't believe me. I was a full time mother who fled due to abuse. My ex breeched judges orders, paper work from my side went missing in the system. It was horrible. I don't think it makes a difference if your a mum or dad, a childs welfare is based solely on what the bully wants. I haven't seen my daughter since the 22nd March.
Gem - 18-May-20 @ 2:39 AM
Reading the majority of these posts is saddens me very much, i have been mentally abused and controlled by my daughters mother for ten years, I had to go to court in the beginning to even see her, accused of taking drugs, passed everything and ended up with parental responsibility and 7 hours a week and one weekend a month, which over the years has become less and less due to her mother planning dance lessons etc with no discussion with me , I've had no say bout anything through her whole life, when the outbreak of covid 19 dawned on us it was me was concerned bout contact, i was later furloughed and was still denied access, during this time my daughter has been poisoned against me, today she has broken my heart and the ten years i have fought to attain a relationship feels lost. Dads do not stand a chance against these women who will fight every step of the way and have all the power no matter what the farther does. I commend the mothers who are the opposite and wish the dads to be involved. How has it come to this, i really feel for everyone who is a similar situation, and looking at sites like this one you realise just how common it is, and what a mis justice it is
no chance - 17-May-20 @ 7:52 PM
I had a telephonehearing, my x have legal help andI don't, I receivedthe letter two day beforethe hearingconfirmation the court hearing I was surprised, I don't have legal help, so joined the hearing on the phone, I told the courtI would like joinedthe case as need legal help and throughout the hearing having difficulties hearing, the judge continued any way,to my surprise the judge accepted all what x lawyer requested, more so my x is living in shared accommodation, he live in one room, the kids should start staying overnight this week, a boy and a girl, above all in shared accommodation with 2 or 3 more stranger, sharing bathroomkitchen and living space this pandemictime, my x said he will moved to 2 bed house next month, I don't know why the court to do that, apart fromthe pandemic risk,the other people we don't know if have any criminal records. I have medical conditions that I have to be shieldingby my GP at the moment. As am workingfor NHS, i felt bullied by the court and his lawyer, EventhoughI told the the judge, she don't care about the Safety of the kids also my health this is causing me seriousconcern and anxiety. What shallI do, I have contact my GP as adviced to stay home to minimize risk.
Kate - 17-May-20 @ 9:30 AM
I’m just wondering, my ex partner has been told by court order that he is to have our children every other weekend. But as all of this is going on he has told me that he can’t have them as I’m still going out and his partner and her kids are high risk. Is there anything I can do about this? Will the police arrest him or fine him as I need a break and I feel like this is unfair on me?
AJ - 15-May-20 @ 8:19 PM
Hi there I have a contact order which allows me to see my daughter every week which has been fine until 2 weeks ago when my x says with everything going on we have to put this on hold, which I agreed with, I have asked to see her again and she just says when the government says it’s ok, I have checked and because I am a key worker she’s saying because I go to work I can’t see my daughter, should I get in touch with the courts now as she’s in breach of the contact order
Bobby - 23-Apr-20 @ 4:02 PM
I have a daughter who is 3, has contact every other weekend with dad and half school holidays. My daughter has been going through, paediatricians, dieticians, child psychologists as she has had eating issues since contact started. Recently social and police got involved again as she has been coming back from fathers for years with bowel issues, now been diagnosed with chronic constipation and under the care of a paediatrician. I have religiously followed the court order for the last two years but now with the Coronavirus, I have refused to let her go as I cannot risk going in and out of hospital and doctors each time she comes back from dads house. On top of this father lives with his pensioner mum who has several underlying health conditions, I also have asthma and my daughter also. I am sticking to my gut that my daughter cannot go through anymore.
Rachel - 18-Apr-20 @ 1:34 AM
Interesting to read everyone’s circumstance- All carry a lot of anguish- empathy to all. Particularly interesting to me are the ones where mothers are despairing of fathers that are not that interested in kids... mine is quite the opposite!?!.. So my story (much abridged) Mother of my 4 yr old son with absolutely no reason fights tooth and nail to minimise our shared time..( I am not obliged to give you any more- is the default line) No qualms about making up the most heinous fiction imaginableto destroy my reputation in attempts to force her will. social services have fully investigated and concluded all allegations are baseless... She refuses mediation after 2 sessions as it wasn’t going her way. There has been zero aggression or abuse in our lives I have sought nothing more than 50% shared access which seems prettty normal and beneficial to all, especially son. I have kicked off court proceedings in recent weeks as I panicked with genuine reason that she would use the current circumstances to move away nearer her parents. Upshot is the existing minimal contact rota has become court stamped but with significant errors her Soliciter made in the draught that reduce our time significantly .. no response when I have highlighted these glaring errors Having supported her With child care and Maintenenceto the tune of £38,000 over 2-3 years I’ve no cash resources for legal support... Im having a whinge more than anything... so I’m hoping Cafcass meetings go well.. and the Family courts see sense and logic and recognise the value of a father that insists on equal parenting rights ...not fall for crafttines of a mother jealousy of asons love for his father. I will let you know how we get on
Danny - 18-Apr-20 @ 1:14 AM
Interesting to read everyone’s circumstance- All carry a lot of anguish- empathy to all. Particularly interesting to me are the ones where mothers are despairing of fathers that are not that interested in kids... mine is quite the opposite!?!.. So my story (much abridged) Mother of my 4 yr old son with absolutely no reason fights tooth and nail to minimise our shared time..( I am not obliged to give you any more- is the default line) No qualms about making up the most heinous fiction imaginableto destroy my reputation in attempts to force her will. social services have fully investigated and concluded all allegations are baseless... She refuses mediation after 2 sessions as it wasn’t going her way. There has been zero aggression or abuse in our lives I have sought nothing more than 50% shared access which seems prettty normal and beneficial to all, especially son. I have kicked off court proceedings in recent weeks as I panicked with genuine reason that she would use the current circumstances to move away nearer her parents. Upshot is the existing minimal contact rota has become court stamped but with significant errors her Soliciter made in the draught that reduce our time significantly .. no response when I have highlighted these glaring errors Having supported her With child care and Maintenenceto the tune of £38,000 over 2-3 years I’ve no cash resources for legal support... Im having a whinge more than anything... so I’m hoping Cafcass meetings go well.. and the Family courts see sense and logic and recognise the value of a father that insists on equal parenting rights ...not fall for crafttines of a mother jealousy of asons love for his father. I will let you know how we get on
Danny - 14-Apr-20 @ 8:53 PM
I should add that lawyers will drag out communications for as long as possible to keep their pockets filled
Mr Brightside - 10-Apr-20 @ 9:58 PM
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but court orders aren’t worth the paper they are writtenon. Police don’t want to get involved & social work aren’t interested in you. Covid 19 outbreak is a free pass for alienators to interfere with contact arrangements to their hearts content, and there’s nothing you or your kids can do about it.
Mr Brightside - 10-Apr-20 @ 9:55 PM
I have a current court order agreement by consent with my ex partner. Ex partner breach the order 9x from November2019-April 2020. I offered mediation but she said she can not afford it. Prior to that she had a barrister at the last hearing and I paid 4 times her mediationcost. I filled a C79 for the 9 clean breaches With no contact. I had a telephone conversation the out come from the Judge was no enforcement. Judge reason not to enforce unpaid work and fine would not be reasonable in this current climate. What is thepoint having a court order by consent when the court won’t enforce it.....I feel completely unfair....there was no mention that she has to comply with the court order.
Pma - 7-Apr-20 @ 7:04 AM
My great grandson has been having regular visits to his daddies home,my grand daughter has never wanted to stop these stays but has asked his daddy if he would consider stopping them until this sad covoid situation is over,or come to an agreement where he sees him for shorter times,daddy works in the retail trade big exposure to the covoid virus so works whilst baby is in his care,also is he allowed to leave the baby in his parents care whilst he works or goes out they also work one of them in a high virus risk job.
Nan - 7-Apr-20 @ 3:15 AM
My OH has been furloughed, however his ex is a key worker and is insisting that SD goes to school whilst she works, as opposed to stay with us through the day. We really feel that SD would be safer with us, however she has taken the court order to school and the police! Where do we stand?
Miss Piggy - 4-Apr-20 @ 8:19 AM
I have a contact order in place so my son Can see his dad alternate weekends and collection from school for tea twice a week on non contact weekends. He’s refusing to collect him from school and when he has he’s refused to return him home causing an enormous amount of anxiety both for my son and me. Infactleft him at school uncollected and the school have rang me to tell me that he’s still waiting to be picked up! On a few occasions. In the order he’s to pick up and return him to me, however he’s now decided he’s not collecting and returning him and telling my son to tell me I need drop him off it’s my turn. He’s 12 .. I’m astonished that a man would behave like this towards his son and now he’s telling my son he can’t see him till the coronavirus is all over with. Neither are showing any symptoms so as far as I was concerned he could still see him. My son saw it on the news it might be upto 6 months for the coronavirus situation to settle down and said it could be 6 months before I see you. His dad replied can’t be helped!!!I feel really sad for my son. He just wants a dad in his life. He’s continuously breaching the order we don’t know if we are coming or going with him.Does anyone know what the courts will do if I take him back to court for non compliance because this is not fare on my son he wants to see his dad and he’s playing games with his mind.
Don’t always blame t - 30-Mar-20 @ 9:17 AM
I have a contact order in place so my son Can see his dad alternate weekends and collection from school for tea twice a week on non contact weekends. He’s refusing to collect him from school and when he has he’s refused to return him home causing an enormous amount of anxiety both for my son and me. Infactleft him at school uncollected and the school have rang me to tell me that he’s still waiting to be picked up! On a few occasions. In the order he’s to pick up and return him to me, however he’s now decided he’s not collecting and returning him and telling my son to tell me I need drop him off it’s my turn. He’s 12 .. I’m astonished that a man would behave like this towards his son and now he’s telling my son he can’t see him till the coronavirus is all over with. Neither are showing any symptoms so as far as I was concerned he could still see him. My son saw it on the news it might be upto 6 months for the coronavirus situation to settle down and said it could be 6 months before I see you. His dad replied can’t be helped!!!I feel really sad for my son. He just wants a dad in his life. He’s continuously breaching the order we don’t know if we are coming or going with him.Does anyone know what the courts will do if I take him back to court for non compliance because this is not fare on my son he wants to see his dad and he’s playing games with his mind.
Don’t always blame t - 30-Mar-20 @ 1:20 AM
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