Family Lore Clinic: Can a contact order be enforced?

A contact order requires the person with whom the child lives, normally one of the child's parents, to allow the person named in the order, usually the other parent, to have contact with the child. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the person with whom the child lives to fail to comply with the order. If this happens, can the order be enforced?

A contact order certainly can be enforced, but the court will not normally take enforcement action without investigating why the order has not been complied with. There may be good reasons for the non-compliance, or the contact that was ordered previously may simply no longer be appropriate for that child. In this case, the court will usually re-define the contact to try to deal with these issues, rather than take enforcement action.

If, on the other hand, there has been a clear breach of a contact order for no good reason, then the court can take enforcement action. I will not go into the detail of the types of enforcement action that the court can take, but these can include imposing an ‘unpaid work requirement’ on the person in breach of the contact order, fining that person and even, in extreme cases (usually after repeated breaches), imprisoning them.

Obviously, this is only a very brief summary of a complex subject. If you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.