What Happens When a Parent Breaches a Court Order?

When a court issues an order, it is legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. Unfortunately, there are instances where one parent may disregard or breach a court order, causing frustration and potential harm to the child and the other parent. This article aims to shed light on the consequences and legal recourse available when a parent breaches a court order in the context of family law.

Understanding Court Orders in Family Law

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand what court orders entail in family law cases. Court orders typically outline the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each parent concerning matters such as child arrangement orders, live with and spend time with orders, and other related issues. These orders are put in place to ensure the best interests of the child and promote stability and consistency in their lives.

Types of Court Order Breaches

A parent can breach a court order in various ways. Some common examples include:

  • Denying spend time with rights – One parent refuses to allow the other parent to spend their court-ordered time with the child.
  • Relocating without permission – A parent moves away with the child without obtaining consent from the court or the other parent.
  • Failure to pay child maintenance – A parent neglects their obligation to provide financial support as stipulated in the court order.
  • Disregarding a child arrangement order – One parent ignores the child arrangement order established by the court.

Consequences of Breaching a Court Order

When a parent breaches a court order, several consequences may follow, including:

  • Contempt of court

The court may find the non-compliant parent in contempt, which can result in fines, community service, or even imprisonment.

  • Variation of orders

The court may decide to vary the existing court order to better protect the child’s best interests.

  • Make-up time or compensatory spend time

The court may order the non-compliant parent to provide additional time or compensatory spend time to make up for the missed or denied time.

  • Legal costs and solicitor’s fees

In very rare cases, the non-compliant parent may be required to reimburse the other party for legal costs and solicitor’s fees incurred due to the breach.

  • Parental alienation considerations

If one parent consistently undermines the relationship between the child and the other parent, the court may take parental alienation into account when making future decisions.

Seeking Legal Remedies

If a parent finds themselves dealing with a court order breach, it’s crucial to take appropriate legal action. The following steps are always recommended in order to assist you in getting the best results. 

  • Documentation

Keep detailed records of the breaches, including dates, times, and any supporting evidence such as emails, text messages, or witnesses.

  • Mediation

Attempt mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve the issue without escalating the conflict further.

  • Consultation with a solicitor

Seek legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor who can guide you through the legal process and represent your interests.

  • Petition for enforcement

If informal resolution attempts fail, you can file a petition with the court to enforce the existing court order and seek appropriate remedies.

A court order breach can have significant implications for both parents and, most importantly, the well-being of the child involved. Understanding the consequences and available legal remedies is crucial for parents who find themselves facing such situations.

If you believe a parent has breached a court order, or would like to discuss anything else in this article, contact us on 01603 677077 or email