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Can I enforce a Child Arrangements Order?

Our People - Loretta Orsi-Barzanti
9 November, 2022

Yes, you can enforce a Child Arrangements Order in the UK by applying to the court using form C79. This form can be used to ask the court to enforce the child arrangements order if the order is not being complied with.

This C79 form can also be used to ask the court to act if there has been a breach of an enforcement order.

There is nothing more disappointing than going through the stress and strain of court proceedings to obtain a child arrangements order, only to find that at some point down the line, the order is not being complied with. Beside anything else it is awful for the children involved who were expecting the stability of a relationship with that parent.

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order is a court order which sets out the arrangements for where and with who children with live and how often, and under what circumstances they will spend time with the non-resident parent.

The order will only be made when the arrangements for the children cannot be agreed upon and where the court has been asked to intervene and made a decision. However, if during court proceedings agreement is reached, a judge will likely approve a child arrangements order. If agreement cannot be reached between the parties, then a judge will make a decision on behalf of the parties and the children. The most important factor in determining how a child arrangements order is made is what is in the child’s best interests.

Once the order is made, if either parent does not follow the order then the other can start proceedings to enforce the terms of the order.  the parents (or legal guardians) legal agreement approved by the court and if it is not followed,

How do you enforce a child arrangements order?

When you are considering enforcing a child arrangements order you will need to complete Form C79. You will need to include all the details about the case, provide a copy of the existing order and explain to the court how the order has been breached.

Once the form is completed, send the application to the court where the child arrangements order was made. However, the form can be issued at any court. Generally, the application should be issued in the court closest to where the child lives.

You can send the application by post or by email to the court office. Locate the correct email using the court website on the page for the relevant court.

The court may take up to 4 weeks to respond. It is worthwhile contacting the court by telephone or email after 3 weeks have passed, to make sure your application has been received and is being processed, to avoid delay down the line.

What is the cost of the c79 child arrangement application?

Once you have decided on the enforcement of a child arrangement order and have completed the form c79 child arrangement, you will also have to pay a court fee which is currently £232. If you are on a low income you can apply for an exemption from this fee by making an application for help with fees.

What if it is an emergency?

You can make an application without notice to the other person. This is called an “ex-partner” application. You will have to explain to the court why it is an emergency and why it has to be dealt with immediately. 

You must tell the court that you want the court to deal with your application “without notice”

What happens next?

Once the court has received your application, they will issue it and will give you a case number. The court will provide copies (by either email or post) to everyone involved in the case.

The court will also list the matter for a hearing which all parties will need to attend. If you do not attend then the court can make orders in your absence.

What happens if you do not comply with a child arrangements order?

If you do not comply with a child arrangements order the other party to the proceedings can apply to the court for an order to be made against you. The child arrangements order is a legally binding document and each person must comply with the contents. You could be penalised in a variety of ways if you do not have a reasonable excuse for complying with a child arrangements order.

The court can make various orders including:

  1. Asking the parties to attend a SPIP (separated parents information programme)
  2. Varying the child arrangements order
  3. Making an enforcement order
  4. Committing the person in breach to prison
  5. Issuing a fine
  6. Making an order against the person in breach for the financial loss they have caused

If your ex-partner has failed to follow the child arrangements order you can apply to the court for an enforcement order.  You must  be able to prove that your ex-partner failed to comply with the child arrangements order for your application to be successful.

Will the court make an enforcement order?

The court will make an enforcement order if it is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed to comply with a child arrangements order.

The court will not make an enforcement order if the court is satisfied that the person who allegedly breached the order has a reasonable excuse for not complying.

It can be very difficult to determine whether a court is likely to make an order. It also depends on what is considered to be reasonable. The definition of reasonable is different in different circumstances and every case is dealt with on its own facts.

What will the court consider when deciding to make an order?

The most important thing to the court is the welfare of the child. The court must also be satisfied that the enforcement order is necessary in the circumstances. The court also has to be sure that the enforcement order is proportionate.

Do I need evidence?

Yes, the more evidence that you can provide, the better. Before issuing enforcement proceedings, you should try as best as you can to try and resolve the situation. You can email or contact the other party to try to encourage them to comply with the chid arrangements. If that approach is unsuccessful, then you can provide the correspondence to the court as evidence to support your application.

If you would like any help or advice on enforce a Child Arrangements Order or any issues relating to child proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Children Matters Team or get in touch on 020 8492 2290.

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