Personal Law
October 23, 2023

What happens when a parent breaches court orders?

When a Court issues an order, it is legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. Unfortunately, there are instances where one parent may disregard or breach a court order, causing frustration and potential harm to the child. This article aims to shed light on the consequences and legal recourse available when a parent breaches a court order in the context of family law.

Understanding Court Orders in Family Law

First and foremost, it is essential to understand what court orders entail in family law cases. Court orders typically outline the rights, responsibilities and obligations of each parent concerning matters such as an arrangement order, visitation, child support and other related issues. These orders are put in place to ensure the best interests of the child and promote stability and consistency in their lives.

Types of Court Order Breaches

A court order can be breached in various ways. Some common examples include:

  • Relocating without permission - A parent moves away with the child without obtaining consent from the court or the other parent.
  • Disregarding a child arrangement order - One parent ignores the arrangement order established by the Court, by failing to make the child(ren) available to spend time with the other parent.

Consequences of breaching a Court Order

When a parent breaches a court order, several consequences may follow, including:

Contempt of Court

The Court may find the non-compliant parent in contempt, which can result in fines, community service or even imprisonment.

Amendment of Orders

The Court may decide to amend the existing court order to better protect the child's best interests.

Make-up time or compensatory visitation

The Court may order the non-compliant parent to provide additional time or compensatory visitation to make up for the missed or denied time.

Legal costs and solicitor's fees

The non-compliant parent may be required to reimburse the other party for legal costs and solicitor's fees incurred due to the breach.

Parental alienation considerations

If one parent consistently undermines the relationship between the child and the other parent, the Court may take parental alienation into account when making future decisions. Ultimately, the Court could decide that the child should live with the other parent if they take the view that one party is causing harm to the child(ren) by failing to comply with the Order.

Seeking Legal Remedies

If a parent finds themselves dealing with a court order breach, it's crucial to take appropriate legal action. The following steps are always recommended in order to assist you in getting the best results. 


Keep detailed records of the breaches, including dates, times, and any supporting evidence such as emails, text messages, or witnesses.


Attempt mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve the issue without escalating the conflict further.

Consultation with a solicitor

Seek legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor who can guide you through the legal process and represent your interests.

Application for enforcement

If informal resolution attempts fail, you can file an application with the court to enforce the existing Court Order and seek appropriate remedies.

A court order breach can have significant implications for both parents and, most importantly, the well-being of the child involved. Understanding the consequences and available legal remedies is crucial for parents who find themselves facing such situations. If you believe a parent has breached a court order, consult with a qualified family law solicitor to protect your rights and the best interests of your child.

If a parent has concerns that a change in circumstances would mean that making a child available to spend time with the other parent in accordance with a court order would not be in the interests of that child, they should consider making an application to the Court for that order to be varied. Again, advice from a solicitor specialising in family law should be sought.

Need to talk to us?

Our friendly family team are here to help and advise on family law matters, including court orders and legal matters relating to divorce, children and finances. Please get in touch on 01892 526344 or email For further information on all our family law services, please click here.

Fixed Fee Appointments - £100 + VAT

We offer an initial one hour fixed fee appointment with one of our friendly family solicitors for £100 + VAT. This gives you the opportunity to talk your matter through with a solicitor, get their advice and then consider your options before deciding how to progress your legal matter. Please get in touch if you feel this type of appointment would be beneficial.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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