Breaches of a Par­ent­ing Or­der


APar­ent­ing Or­der sets out the ba­sis on which sep­a­rated par­ents will ful­fil their par­ent­ing role, if they have not been able to agree be­tween them­selves, with­out the need for the court to get in­volved.

There are a num­ber of ways the court can deal with a breach of the terms of a Par­ent­ing Or­der. The op­tions avail­able un­der the Care of Chil­dren Act are:


The court can ad­mon­ish (for­mally rep­ri­mand) a party who has breached a Par­ent­ing Or­der.

The im­pact of an admonishment is both a warn­ing to the party that they need to abide by the terms of the or­der, as well as creat­ing a for­mal record of the party’s be­hav­iour.

In giv­ing an admonishment a judge might also ad­vise a party that fur­ther breaches will re­sult in more se­ri­ous en­force­ment steps be­ing taken.


The court can or­der a party to en­ter into a bond, where they must pay a cer­tain amount of money in to the court.

The court will set out a num­ber of con­di­tions, and if any of those con­di­tions are breached then some or all of the money paid will be for­feited to the Crown or used to meet the costs of an­other party to the or­der.


The court can also vary the terms of a Par­ent­ing Or­der, or even dis­charge it al­to­gether, as a re­sponse to one or more breaches of that or­der.

For ex­am­ple, the court could add ex­tra con­di­tions, re­duce the amount of time the child or chil­dren was to spend with one of the par­ties, or even com­pletely flip the care ar­range­ments, so that the child goes from liv­ing pri­mar­ily with one party to pri­mar­ily with the other.


In more se­ri­ous cases the court can is­sue a war­rant to en­force the terms of an or­der. This would usu­ally in­volve the po­lice or a so­cial worker go­ing and up­lift­ing the child or chil­dren from one party in or­der to re­turn them to the other par­ent. This is gen­er­ally a last re­sort in sit­u­a­tions where one party is re­fus­ing to send/re­turn the child or chil­dren to the other par­ent, and ei­ther noth­ing else has worked to en­force the re­turn, or there are safety con­cerns with the chil­dren re­main­ing with that par­ent.


In some lim­ited and se­ri­ous cases the judge might also feel that it is nec­es­sary to pun­ish a party for con­tempt of court for a de­lib­er­ate breach or ob­struc­tion of a Par­ent­ing Or­der. In very se­ri­ous cases this can re­sult in a pe­riod of im­pris­on­ment.

In de­cid­ing on whether to for­mally re­spond to a breach of a Par­ent­ing Or­der the court must con­sider a num­ber of is­sues.

The most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is whether it is in the best in­ter­ests of the child or chil­dren for the breach to be ad­dressed for­mally.

The court will also look at the se­ri­ous­ness of the breach, whether it is a sin­gle breach or part of a pat­tern, and whether the pro­posed ac­tions are likely to have the de­sired ef­fect of re­duc­ing the like­li­hood of fur­ther breaches.

Ad­di­tion­ally, when con­sid­er­ing a bond the court must con­sider the abil­ity of the breach­ing party to pay a bond.

Col­umn cour­tesy of RAINEY COLLINS LAWYERS­phone 0800 733 484 www.rain­ey­ If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn please email Alan on aknowsley@rain­ey­

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