My ex is breaching a child arrangements order. What can I do?

What can you do if the court has made a child arrangements order (CAO) relating to your child but your ex is not complying with it?

A CAO is legally binding. The warning notice attached to each order sets out what the court can do when someone is not complying with the order. 

If you feel that your ex has not complied with the terms of a CAO, you can go back to court to enforce the order. The first thing the judge will do is check whether you and your ex agree the facts about the alleged breach. If you don’t, there may need to be an extra hearing (called a fact-finding hearing) to deal with that. Once the judge knows what the facts are, they will consider why the order has not been complied with. They will involve CAFCASS if necessary. 
If the judge finds that there has been no “reasonable” excuse for your ex not to comply with the order, then any of the following might happen:

  • you and your ex are ordered to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme;
  • the existing CAO is varied – if the order is no longer working, the court will try and adjust it so that it can work; 
  • an enforcement order is made for your ex to undertake unpaid work – this only usually happens if CAFCASS recommend your ex for this and can show that unpaid work is available; 
  • your ex is ordered to pay compensation; 
  • your ex is sentenced to a short stay in prison; or 
  • a fine is imposed on your ex.

Arrangements under a CAO can break down for a wide variety of reasons. If you find yourself in a situation where a CAO is no longer working, don’t just ignore the order. Go back to the court, explain what is not working and ask the court to help you and your ex come to a new arrangement.

Kris Arpon