20 July 2023

What Happens When a Parent Breaches a Court Order?

What Happens When a Parent Breaches a Court Order?

When a court issues an order, both parties are legally bound by the decision and must adhere to it. Unfortunately, there are instances where one parent may ignore or breach a court order, to the detriment of the other parent and the child. Our child services solicitors explain what the repercussions of such actions could be, as well as the legal solutions available.

Understanding Court Orders in Family Law

Firstly, it’s essential to understand what court orders involve in family law cases. Usually, an order granted by the Family Court set out the rights, requirements and responsibilities of both parents when looking at key issues such as arrangements, contact and child maintenance. Placing this into a court order ensures that the child and their parents have a stable foundation that is in the best interest of the child.

What are Court Order Breaches? 

There are multiple ways in which a parent can breach a court order, including:

Refusing contact: One parent stops the other parent from spending time with the child, as set out in the order.

Moving away without agreement: One parent relocates with the child and has not been granted permission from the other parent, or the court.

Non-payment of child maintenance: The parent who is to provide financial support as per the order fails to maintain this obligation.

Ignoring the child arrangement order: One parent disregards the child arrangement order that was put in place by the court.

Consequences of Breaching a Court Order

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

  • Court measures: The court may find the non-compliant parent in contempt, which can result in punitive measures which include fines, community service, or even a custodial sentence.
  • Amendment of the order: The court may decide to change the existing court order to ensure that the best interests of the child are put back at the forefront of the order.
  • Additional contact: A court order can be made so that the parent found to be breaching the order must allow compensatory visitation for the time that the child would have spent with the parent had the order been complied with.
  • Costs order: The parent who is in breach may be required to pay the costs and legal fees of the parent who missed out due to the non-compliance.
  • Parental alienation: A parent that challenges the relationship between the other parent and the child in a consistent manner can be considered to be alienating the child from the other parent. The court can and may consider this when involved in the future.

What Legal Action can you take?

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.

Record Keeping

Keep detailed notes of incidents where the order is breached. These should include dates, times, and supporting evidence such as written exchanges via text or email, or witnesses.


This can be useful to help de-escalate matters before further breaches take place, the conflict worsens, and court involvement is required again.

Meeting with a solicitor

Obtaining advice from a family law solicitor, experienced in children’s matters will provide support, guidance, and help represent both your and your child’s best interests in court and during negotiation.


If mediation and negotiations do not succeed, you can apply to the court to enforce the existing order and apply for the relevant court remedies.

Seeking Legal Advice from Howell Jones

Breaching a court order can result in serious consequences for non-compliant parents as well as the well-being of the child and the relationship between them and their parents. Being able to understand the implications of a court order and the options available to a parent in this situation is paramount, for both you as a parent and most importantly, your child.

Speaking with a solicitor can help set this out in a clear and helpful manner. Contact the team at Howell Jones for legal advice. 

our lawyers deliver an excellent quality service, independently recognised by The Law Society and our many returning clients.

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