Implications for a parent breaching a CAO
When a Court issues an order it is legally binding and so there are enforcement remedies when a parent breaches a Child Arrangements Order (CAO). To apply to enforce your CAO you must be the individual named in the order with whom the child is having contact or living with.
Breaching a CAO
There are various ways a parent can breach a court order, examples include:
- Denying contact rights.
- Relocating without permission.
- Ignoring the arrangement established by the Court.
How to enforce CAO
The individual named in the order must have broken or not adhered to the CAO without reasonable excuse. Initially, the aggrieved parent may attempt to resolve the matter through communication or mediation. Direct communication can often lead to a resolution without involving the Courts.
If unsuccessful and the Order contains a ‘Warning Notice’, it is possible to enforce your CAO, which states the consequence of failing to comply with the Order. This is normally attached automatically by the Family Court. However, if your order was made before December 2008, it is possible to apply for an attachment of a warning notice to a CAO.
What powers do the Court have?
Upon receiving a complaint, the court has wide-ranging powers. The Court can vary the CAO, order enforcement of the CAO, order the other parent in breach of the order to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme, or direct that the parties attend mediation. In serious cases, the court may find that the non-compliant parent is in contempt of court, which can result in fines, community service or even imprisonment.
Parents facing difficulties with a CAO should seek legal advice promptly. Consulting a family law professional can provide guidance on the best course of action and help navigate the legal complexities involved.
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