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Enforcement of court-ordered child arrangements

Shared parenting charity, Families Need Fathers, has reported that the Government has published its response to the proposals on enforcing court-ordered child arrangements contained in the ‘Co-operative parenting following family separation’ consultation, which ran from 13th June – 5th September 2012.

According to the charity, the Government has decided not to legislate for any further enforcement powers, but to instead address breaches of court orders by ensuring that cases can be returned to court more promptly.

It proposes that orders breached within the first year will be returned to court with 14 days notice (to the judge who made the original order wherever possible), and breaches more than 12 months after an order is made will be returned to Court within 4-6 weeks for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment.

Families Need Fathers welcomes the Government’s desire to reduce the delays in returning a case to court which can prove incredibly damaging for the children and parents affected, but continues to have concerns that the reluctance of courts to utilise their current enforcement powers will mean that the proposals will not be enough to address persistent breaches intended to exclude a parent from their child’s life.

Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, commented, “Whilst swift resolution of breached orders is crucial, returning cases to court quicker will only be effective if courts are willing to take appropriate action to enforce their orders. These are currently rarely used, and there is little in the Government’s proposals to suggest that courts will be able to ensure compliance with orders in intractable cases.”

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