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What Happens When a Parent Breaches a Court Order?

View profile for Joanne Harriman
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When a court issues an order, it carries legal weight and must be adhered to by all parties implicated. Unfortunately, there are situations in which a parent may neglect or violate a court order, resulting in frustration and the potential detriment of the child and the other parent. This article endeavours to clarify the outcomes and the legal remedies accessible when a parent breaches a court order within the realm of family law.

Understanding Court Orders in Family Law

Foremost, it is crucial to grasp the content of court orders in family law matters. These orders generally delineate the rights, duties, and responsibilities of each parent regarding aspects like custody arrangements, visitation, child support, and other pertinent matters. These orders are implemented to safeguard the child's best interests and foster stability and continuity in their daily lives.

Types of Court Order Breaches

A parent can breach a court order in various ways. Some common examples include:

  • Denying visitation rights - One parent refuses to allow the other parent to spend their court-ordered time with the child.

  • Relocating without permission - A parent moves away with the child without obtaining consent from the court or the other parent.

  • Failure to pay child support - A parent neglects their obligation to provide financial support as stipulated in the court order.

  • Disregarding arrangement order - One parent ignores the arrangement order established by the court.

Consequences of Breaching a Court Order

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

Contempt of court

The court may determine that the non-compliant parent is in contempt, potentially leading to fines, community service, or, in more severe cases, incarceration.

Modification of orders

The court might opt to revise the current court order to enhance the safeguarding of the child's best interests.

Make-up time or compensatory visitation

The court may instruct the non-compliant parent to offer extra time or compensatory visitation to compensate for the time that was missed or denied.

Legal costs and solicitor's fees

The parent not adhering to the court order may need to repay the opposing party for the legal expenses and attorney's fees accrued as a result of the violation.

Parental alienation considerations

Should a single parent persistently weaken the bond between the child and the other parent, the court may consider parental alienation when formulating future judgements.

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. 


Maintain comprehensive records of the violations, including precise dates, times, and any corroborating evidence such as emails, text messages, or eyewitness accounts.


Explore mediation or alternative dispute resolution approaches as an effort to address the problem without exacerbating the dispute.

Consultation with a solicitor

Consult with a proficient family law attorney with experience in the field, who can provide you with legal counsel and advocate for your interests throughout the legal proceedings.

Petition for enforcement

If efforts to resolve the matter informally prove unsuccessful, you have the option to submit a formal petition to the court to enforce the existing court order and request suitable remedies.

A breach of a court order can carry substantial consequences for both parents and, of utmost importance, the welfare of the child in question. It is vital for parents confronting such circumstances to comprehend the repercussions and the legal remedies at their disposal. If you suspect a parent has violated a court order, seek counsel from a capable family law attorney to safeguard your rights and prioritise the well-being of your child.