Non-compliance with a Child Arrangement Order

Q – I separated from my partner several years ago and have had great difficulty gaining access to my children. Eventually, I was able to obtain a court order setting out the times the children were to spend time with me, but my ex refuses to comply with it. The order says that my ex could be sent to prison and/or fined if she does not comply. Is this correct?

A – Strictly, non-compliance with a Child Arrangement order can result in an individual being imprisoned and/or fined by the court. However, this is rarely, if ever, the first method of enforcement the court will consider and is only adopted where it is absolutely necessary.

Whilst there are cases where a party to an order is imprisoned for non-compliance (often for only very brief periods), it is highly unlikely that the court will, in the first instance, seek to imprison your ex (which would require an application for committal in any event). The imprisonment of an individual represents a restriction of a person’s liberty and could, where the children live with the offending party, result in harm to the children which the court will take into consideration.

There are all sorts of reasons that one party to an order refuses to comply with the terms; however, if you are concerned that the order is not being followed (particularly without your agreement or good reason) then you should consider making an application to the court for enforcement.

Please contact us if you would like more information about this particular issue or any aspect of family law on 01656 645525 or

Katie McColgan – Partner

01656 645525