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Breach of Contact or Residence Order: What to Do

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 26 May 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Court Order Contact Order Breach Courts

A 'contact order' is an order made by the court that determines who is entitled to communicate with a child (either through face to face meetings or telephone calls, or indirectly such as by letter). A 'residence order' is an order made by the court that determines where and with whom a child lives. From April 2014, these orders have been replaced with a single 'child arrangement order' which covers both issues (given that they are intrinsically linked).

You can apply to the courts for a child arrangement order. For most parents, this will be the end of the matter, and both parties will comply with the order. However unfortunately for some parents, this can be the stage at which further problems begin, if the other party breaches the order.

What is a breach?

Arguably anything that does not comply with the order is a breach. For example if the order states that the non-resident parent should have contact every Friday from 5pm and contact is not provided until 5:05pm, this is technically a breach of the order. However it is important to be reasonable; the courts are unlikely to take any action if the breach is insignificant.

The courts' guidance states that unless a breach is regular and intentional, they will not usually take action to enforce the order or punish the breach. Further it is important to consider the needs of your child first and so some flexibility may be needed on occasion.

"I have a contact order which says that I have contact with my 14 year old daughter from 6pm on three evenings a week. My ex-wife has agreed that she can play netball for her school team on Wednesday evenings until 6pm which means that I won' see her until 7pm. Can she do this?"

Whilst it would have perhaps been better for your ex-wife to discuss this with you first, try to be flexible. Does your daughter enjoy playing netball? The courts consider a child's welfare as paramount and so her participation in such activities (if she wants to take part) will likely take precedence here. However if this causes you problems, perhaps ask your ex-wife if you can swop the day that you see your daughter to a day when she is home earlier.

"I have lost my job and have been unable to pay child support. I have a court order to see them twice a week. My ex is now saying that if I can't pay child support, then I can't see my kids. Is this a breach?"

Any changes to a contact order must be agreed by both parties. One party cannot unilaterally decide to change the order or apply additional terms. If they wish to do so, they will need to refer the matter back to the Courts.

"I have met someone I really like and would like to introduce my kids to her. I have a court order to see my kids every Wednesday and Sunday. However, my ex has said she doesn't want the kids to meet my new partner and that I can only see my kids when she's not there. Can she do this?"

Concerns often arise over a new partner being introduced to children. However the Courts will not impose a restriction on whether this person can be present during contact unless they can be shown to be a risk to the child's welfare (e.g. someone with convictions for violence or sex offences).

What to do if there is a breach

1) Discuss

The first step in the event of a breach of an order should be to try to discuss this with the other party involved. Whilst this can often be awkward when a relationship between you has broken down, this is the quickest and cheapest way to resolve the problem. When approaching the discussion, try to be flexible. If the breach has occurred due to a change of circumstances (such as the child moving from primary to secondary school, or the other party changing jobs) then maybe you could agree a way to vary the order to something that could realistically be followed.

[The Court does not have to approve any agreed amendments to the order. However make sure that you have this agreement in writing to protect yourself should a further dispute arise.]

"I've had a court order for three years to see my children and everything was working fine, until we had an argument last week when she refused to let them come, after the third week in a row. Admittedly, it got a bit heated and we had a big argument on the doorstep. She called the police and now she has taken out a non-molestation order against me. What happens now?"

If you are unable to contact the other party directly (for example due to a non-molestation order) you may need to ask someone you trust to try to discuss the issue with them, or as per step 2 below, ask a solicitor to correspond on your behalf. In this situation, it is likely that some amendments will be needed to current contact arrangements so that you and your former partner do not see each other. For example one of you drops the children off at school and the other collects from school. Contact or Children and Family Centres will also assist with the transfer in such situations.

2) Write

If you are unable to get anywhere by discussing the issue with the other party, write to them setting out your concerns and proposals to resolve the problem. If you have a solicitor, you may wish to ask them to write to the other party reminding them of their obligations under the order. [Keep a copy of any letters / emails sent in case you ever needed to refer to these in court.]

3) Consider applying to Court

Court enforcement should only be used as a final resort, as this will be added expense, and will generally only serve to increase tensions between the parties.

In order to apply to the Court for enforcement of a child arrangement order (or contact order / residence order), you will need to fill in, issue and serve form C79 (which can be found on the HMRC website). The Court will wish to see that other methods of resolving the issue have been attempted, which is where copy letters (as in point 2 above) are useful.

If you wish to apply to vary a child arrangement order, you will need to use form C100 (which can be found on the HMRC website)

If you are considering making an application to Court, seek independent legal advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide you with free and independent legal advice in this regard.

What can the Court do if a breach has occurred?

There are a number of options open to the Court in order to punish the offending parent and try to ensure that the breach does not occur. Which route the Court takes, will depend upon the circumstances including the severity and frequency of the breach, and where the child resides.
  • The Court can impose a community service order, requiring the parent in breach of the child arrangement order to undertake up to 200 hours of community service.
  • The Court can fine to the parent in breach.
  • The Court can impose a short prison sentence on the parent in breach. (This is however very rare, as the parent in breach is usually the parent with whom the child resides and the primary carer.)
  • The Court may also impose an order for the parent in breach to pay the other party financial compensation if the breach led to loss (e.g. a cancelled holiday).
If in doubt, it is always best to seek legal advice. Citizens Advice Bureau provide free and independent legal advice and can be contacted on 03444 111 444.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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@henbury.after my very (long hard think) .and that I have come to the conclusion that I am (officially done) .i don’t care what the child does she can change her name go for it go under your mothers or father name whatever.(but they must realise in my heart and mind now that I am done I have reached the point now) .so even if the child has a change of heart and wants to meet me when she is older I wont a bar of it because( I cried all my tears and mourned Loss of my daughter and I have buried you now the same as I did my father and I will never speak her name again ) or ever post in blogs like this for the rest of my life) .from now on it’s just me I never had a child .goodbye forever god bless .
C.laurie - 26-May-20 @ 11:33 PM
@henbury.with my long hard think I realised with the (child’s age )if she wanted to meet me or even to talk to me so would call but she doesn’t .that my brother( speaks volumes to me ) .and realised its best to give up and focus on my life .in reality the child wouldn’t care if I was (dead because there is zero emotional attachment )why even bother worrying or wanting to meet someone who doesn’t even want to meet you and with the age of the (child )I can’t (justify )getting a solicitor or bother with courts it’s just not worth it to me .(you will come to a point where you are done and once there and made that decision you feel better and you stop thinking about the whole situation and just get on with your life .
C.laurie - 26-May-20 @ 6:06 PM
@henbury.i myself have a daughter that I am not allowed to see from orders her mother .the child is 16 now so I am done for good now .i feel it’s best I myself have sat bye myself and had a (super long hard think) .and realised the child is 16 right she has (zero emotional attachment to me )because she doesn’t even know me .why put myself though all theses (court cases) right to get one phone call a week And be treated like a prisoner and most likely she wouldn’t even pick up the phone .i am not a smart men but I know when to cash in my chips .and after my long hard think her mother and step father can have her I am done .
C.laurie - 26-May-20 @ 5:39 PM
@henbury.how old are your kids ?.if it was me and I went to court 5 times and if your child is 16 and over and have there own phones and still dont call you or want anything to do with you I would just drop it leave it and get on with your life .sounds like the mother won’t ever budge and the kids don’t want to no you .you need to sit down bye yourself and have a long think on weather it’s worth going back to court or just let them get on with it .
C.laurie - 26-May-20 @ 5:09 PM
My kids mum took out a restraining order against me so contact is so hard to deal with, I have an access orderin it I'm entitled to 1 phone call per week for 5 mins, I have to provide a mobile phone for this, in 4 years 11 mobiles have been provided all have been broken and calls missed, regularly they claim the phone isn't working and I don't get a call, the kids no whave there own mobiles that their mum got for them but she won't let me have the kids phone numbers or the kids to have mine, I can't afford to keep supplying phones is this enough to put in a C79 we have been to court 5 times in 5 years, I really don't want to do it again but she refuses to budge at all
Henbury - 26-May-20 @ 1:31 PM
@mum.get over yourself do as a favour reread your post ?.all I smell desperate vindictive women .you women are all the same .same as that sam bournes and they wonder why I never bothered with a (court order) and why I was( abusive I wanted rid of her for good and the same with her children ).now I can spend the rest of my life in peace away from (cheating ugly old women) and her offspring.why in the hell would someone demand contact under these circumstances??. .
C.laurie - 26-May-20 @ 12:18 AM
Court order already in place! Just before lock down the father of my child didn't turn up for contact, I texted and he didn't respond, 2 weeks later the same thing happened with no notification from him! The day after the second occasion he messaged to say he won't be seeing our son anyone because of the pandemic!he rang our son twice In 12 weeks, our son has only just turned 2 so it's a long time without any contact!Last weekend be collected our son for the first time in 12 weeks even though the situation hasn't really changed with covid, he then said be doesn't want our son on a Wednesday any more even though it's in the order! He believed the court order is on me and that if he wants to sacrifice his time with our son then I need to deal with it! This is a person who demanded every weekend and every Wednesday for contact, I'm sick of him dropping our son when it suits him and am considering stopping contact and contacting the courts! He was abusive in our relationship and no he is using our son to keep the control!!
Mum - 25-May-20 @ 10:37 PM
I have concerns over my daughters safetywith her father he lies to me all the time and my daughter (7) has told me that he leaves her over night with his gf and her parents and he goes back to his house which I fill is a breach of the court order. He has told the social serves that they stay at the gf because he dont want to be left on his own with her as he might have a fit as he suffers from epilepsywhich so do I but he told court last year that his fits were under control. My daughter also come back from his the weekend with bruises on her neck which he tells me she did it herself scrubbing at her neck but my daughter tells me that his gf did it by scrubbing to hard on her neck whichmy daughter said it hurtIt's really complicated but I have stopped contact for now as I am worried about her safety with himand will be talking to my solicitortomorrow about getting amendments done to the order so she can still see her dad but with supervised visits
Dizzy - 20-May-20 @ 8:40 PM
since the virus has hit, I have stayed away from my son for obvious reasons but now his mum won't let me see him even though nobody in both our families have orhad the virus. where do i stand?
gutted - 13-May-20 @ 12:33 PM
I have a beach of court order arriving in post tomorrow but can't find a copy of it anywhere on net.
Steve - 13-Apr-20 @ 2:47 PM
Hi I have 4 year old girl the mother has breached and is not on good terms with social services they advised me to contact the police they ain’t answering what can I do
Justice - 13-Mar-20 @ 8:06 PM
Court order in place however concerns of emotional abuse and manipulation and breach of court order Social services involved and advised to stop contact they did not say how just to get legal advise what should I do as he has disclosed that he will collect the children from school tommorow
Net - 11-Feb-20 @ 10:43 PM
Currently have a court order in place. My daughter’s mum keeps saying she can take our daughter out of the country for a month without my permission which I’m aware of but can she do this if my contact is every other weekend as per order.
Gas - 4-Feb-20 @ 9:23 AM
@rico.just go back to your (solicitor) .you leave it too long like i did over a (decade )you won’t have much off a case .i thought been a father you would still have some rights but apparently not with my time frame .
Chris - 1-Feb-20 @ 5:19 PM
Hi, I have a court order in place and my ex has breached the order. Can I apply directly to the court to reinforce the order. I don't want my daughter suffering to long with this, is there a simple fix to this?
Rico - 1-Feb-20 @ 3:47 PM
last year i wona court order to see my granddaughter shes 4 and a halffor an hour a month at a supportedcontact centre and twice now it has been broken by her parents as they dont want her to see mefirst time they just didnt turn up claimed no one let them knowcontact had been arranged which was untruethis time they are claiming my granddaughter is unwellno mention as to what is wrong bug cold etc and they haven't offered an alternative visit and all i get is an hour a monththe centre we meet at is open twice a month so they could offer another visit and make up this time an hour is not much when i used to have her nearly every weekend3 out of every 4 and developed a very strong bond with her from three months old that was until my son destroyed our relationship with his domestic abuse as well trying to be in control as well as bullying me. Christmas this yeari gave her xmas presents and cardsfor her and her sister two weeks later xmas daythey weredumped on my doorstep with a nastyletter from the eldest who is only 10 with globel development delay clearly using the children as weapons to hurt me,No decent parent would do this to their child.
bond - 28-Jan-20 @ 11:04 PM
last year i wona court order to see my granddaughter shes 4 and a halffor an hour a month at a supportedcontact centre and twice now it has been broken by her parents as they dont want her to see mefirst time they just didnt turn up claimed no one let them knowcontact had been arranged which was untruethis time they are claiming my granddaughter is unwellno mention as to what is wrong bug cold etc and they haven't offered an alternative visit and all i get is an hour a monththe centre we meet at is open twice a month so they could offer another visit and make up this time an hour is not much when i used to have her nearly every weekend3 out of every 4 and developed a very strong bond with her from three months old that was until my son destroyed our relationship with his domestic abuse as well trying to be in control as well as bullying me. Christmas this yeari gave her xmas presents and cardsfor her and her sister two weeks later xmas daythey weredumped on my doorstep with a nastyletter from the eldest who is only 10 with globel development delay clearly using the children as weapons to hurt me,No decent parent would do this to their child.
bond - 28-Jan-20 @ 11:04 PM
I have a 2year old what is going to start nursery monday ti friday soon and my ex partner as an child arrangement and I've told him that he can have my child once a week and says he wants my child twice a week am I in the wrong if Isay no and tell him that he can only have my child once a week.
Chrissie.b - 25-Jan-20 @ 10:32 PM
Hi I am after some advise, I have a live with order and there is also a contact order in place for my ex to have our DD every weekend for a couple of hours, I am aware that I can take our DD on holiday for up to 28 days but how do I go about it with the contact order being in place? I just dont want my ex taking me back to court for going on holiday, I would video call and call my ex whilst on holiday. Thanks
Lucy - 10-Jan-20 @ 12:50 PM
Hi I live in scotland and went through the process of putting in place a contact order as my children's mother would not stick to the separation agreement. I would have preferred at least 50:50 arrangement but accepted the final agreement of every other weekend reluctantly as I know how biased against fathers the family courts are. Since the order was made I have learnt that my ex has been failing to get my 8 year old son to school on average 1 day a week and is constantly late on days when he does attend. (she lives only a few minutes away from the school.) I have also had confirmation from my children's GP that she has failed over the last year to take them to multiple appointments and referrals for health issues. I have also in this time rebuilt my life, clearing the debt from my first marriage. I have remarried and purchased a nice home in the countryside, which is a stark contrast to my ex's rent home and my new wife recently gave birth. I intend to go back to court to seek residency or at least 50:50 so I can support my children getting to school, doctors appointments and so they can spend time growing up with their brother. Do I ask the courts via a writ to set aside the contact order and make a residency order for residency and if not set aside the current contact order for a new contact order? (or is the latter not setting aside but ammending?)
Scotdad123 - 7-Jan-20 @ 2:43 PM
Please do take your daughter to the DR.Any father have similarrights eith the mother and I am sure he would be more than capableto look afterhis daughter.Offer help and advice but do not minimise his parentalresponsibility. Communicate and raise your concernsand worries yo the dad. You will be breaching the order.Discuss it and he might be flexible.
Floppie - 6-Jan-20 @ 6:16 PM
Mother has court order where kids stay they but child doesn't want to go back home what can I do
Sie - 4-Jan-20 @ 7:26 AM
I would like to join this forum on behalf of my partner to find some solutions to issues to do with his son and his ex. Best Flo
Mychildsake - 1-Jan-20 @ 10:27 PM
She has also pleased guilty to the beaches of a non molestation order this week, with a years community order and community service as punishment.
Prawny1 - 4-Dec-19 @ 10:37 AM
Situation is different with my uncle, he has had residency of the kids for seven years so far. It is the mother causing trouble all the time, she even tried to get my uncle evicted (he lives with my gran, pensioner and the mother made false accusations saying gran had moved out to get her rent stopped and her pension) so that the kids would be homeless and she could try get them. She even tried to snatch the lad when he was very young, so uncle had to get prohibited stops order. Mother had told the little girl her dad didn't love her anymore now he has a new son, and that if it wasn't for his new partner and son they would be back together. To cause bad feelings at home.
Prawny1 - 4-Dec-19 @ 10:35 AM
@prawny1.i was barred from applyingvisitation for two years bye the courts because off (violent outbursts) towards the child mother and the police even the magistrate and my neighbour at the time Who I assaultedI was just fed up back then with everyone I felt like (joke walked on and I was at my wits end) and just started fighting everyone even family I bashed my cousins husband at the time because he wouldn’tget my (weed )because he’s wife my cousin was in labour with there first child and he missed the birth off he’s daughter because he was in the emergency department getting stitches most off my family (dropped me )after that and (gave witness statements to the police (dogs ) and I was (charged )again .i thought it was funny at the time I (didn’t care ).just another slap on the wrist and boring day at the court house and it was .didnt really start thinking about my daughter to I seen a photo off her online she grow into a (pretty young women) even heard she is straight a student .i called she doesn’t want anything to do with me which is fair enough I feel my (slate is clean) I did right thing bye calling .all the best to them I think I glad they all moved on with there life’s and if she wants to change first name or surname go ahead .
C.laurie - 3-Dec-19 @ 10:15 PM
@prawny1.i was barred from applyingvisitation for two years bye the courts because off (violent outbursts) towards the child mother and the police even the magistrate and my neighbour at the time Who I assaultedI was just fed up back then with everyone I felt like (joke walked on and I was at my wits end) and just started fighting everyone even family I bashed my cousins husband at the time because he wouldn’tget my (weed )because he’s wife my cousin was in labour with there first child and he missed the birth off he’s daughter because he was in the emergency department getting stitches most off my family (dropped me )after that and (gave witness statements to the police (dogs ) and I was (charged )again .i thought it was funny at the time I (didn’t care ).just another slap on the wrist and boring day at the court house and it was .didnt really start thinking about my daughter to I seen a photo off her online she grow into a (pretty young women) even heard she is straight a student .i called she doesn’t want anything to do with me which is fair enough I feel my (slate is clean) I did right thing bye calling .all the best to them I think I glad they all moved on with there life’s and if she wants to change first name or surname go ahead .
C.laurie - 3-Dec-19 @ 10:00 PM
My uncle has residency order for his two children his elder lad doesn't see his mother because he is tired of being bugged to move in and listening to bad comments about his dad (he is 16 now anyway), Uncle has fought the mother in court three times because of false abuse claims where the mother wanted residency, the second time she was banned for two years from applying for residency, as soon as that ban was up he had to go to court for the third time following more false abuse claims where she was banned for a further five years. (Little girl would be 16 by then) The mother has always showed favouritism to the little girl to the point the lad has never even had a bed to sleep in at mother's house but the girl has her own bedroom. (Little girl is still young enough for mother to manipulate) the mother has continually breached the order refusing to return the little girl on time, picking her up from school on days she isn't supposed to, police refused to force the return of the girl, Social services don't care about the continued emotional turmoil and instability the mother is causing, and recently we found out she has been claiming benefits for the girl for the last 18 months telling the benefits agency the girl lives with her.(she told the little girl that she had gone back to court and won) At the time that she has made the fraudulent claim she was refusing to return the girl for about a month, my uncle had to confront her at the school with his residency order and get the school to call the police. He didn't want this because the mother has continually used the school as a battleground, the police refused to go to the mother's house to get the girl back even though there was a residency order in place. My uncle only found this out after a long battle trying to get his claim reinstated which was stopped without explanation. Benefits agency are now telling him they believe the mother despite the residency order, they told him he needs court permission to show his residency order as evidence in his benefits tribuneral. When they first split up 7 years ago the mother didn't see the kids for 6 months, and threatened that uncle would never see them again if he applied for the benefits. She has only ever wanted to kids for the benefits so that she can get her rent paid and not have to work,
Prawny1 - 3-Dec-19 @ 12:43 PM
@annon.what does poorly mean ?.is child in a bad paddock or a horse ?
snuggles - 21-Nov-19 @ 5:44 AM
@annon.oh you poor thing my heart goes out to you darling .cant you read the orderoh what mean ex you have .oh my god you blokes are funny
Snuggles - 21-Nov-19 @ 5:17 AM
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