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Breach of contact order(5 Posts)
Posting on behalf of a friend...
What would constitute as reasonable grounds for breaching a contact order?
My friends ex is refusing to let their child stay at his home when he has contact (she lives five hours away so he only sees his child every 3 weeks as per court order) because she believes his home is causing the childs allergies to flare up. He has offered for them to stay with family on the next visit as he is waiting for the landlord to assess a damp problem but she has refused and said he can only have his child if they stay in a hotel close to where she lives. This would cost another 300 quid on top of the travel costs of him coming down to see his child (she won't meet him halfway or take turns). She has now said she will apply to have the court order revoked on welfare reasons (even though he has provided a reasonable alternative!) what happens if she breaches the court order by not letting him see his child next week (he has obviously said no to her hotel suggestion)?
The courts will take a very dim view of her attempting to dictate where her child stays when the child is with your friend. She may be able to stop the child staying at your friend's house if she can show that there is a health risk but she cannot insist on the child staying at a hotel.
The courts will take an even dimmer view of her stopping contact on this basis when he has offered a reasonable alternative. It is unlikely she will be able to get the order revoked. If she tries she is likely to make herself look unreasonable (not surprising since she is being unreasonable). That won't help her in any future court action concerning the child.
If she repeatedly breaches the contact order your friend can go back to court to request enforcement action. Note that it will need multiple breaches to persuade the court to take action. Your friend should keep a diary recording any problems over contact. That will be useful evidence if he needs to ask the courts to enforce the order.
Thank you, that's really helpful as it confirms what we thought with regards to what is reasonable. She is being very obstructive and the main concern is obviously if he can't afford to stay down there he won't see his child, he has a good relationship with them but she constantly makes things difficult for no reason other than she can't stand him. Despite him being the only father that her kids (only one is his) that bothers with his child!
Does anyone know if there is a way to speed up the process of enforcement i.e. To stop her preventing contact so he can see his child? He has obviously tried to be as reasonable and flexible as possible but they only communicate via email and she lives far away and he doesn't drive.
I'm afraid not. The courts seem to be a more willing to enforce contact orders than used to be the case but enforcement is still generally a slow process. The recalcitrant parent is usually given multiple chances to comply with the order before effective action is taken.
Her proper course would be to apply to vary the CAO if she thinks there's a problem. It isn't ok to fail to comply in the mean time. And she will have to mediate first.
Given her stated intention not to comply, I would suggest the minute the breach has occurred, he should issue his application (C79, no need to mediate) and get it moving.
But ultimately, the court won't be interested in punishing her, it is all about strong-arming her into doing what she's meant to.
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