Can it be Appropriate to Breach a Court Order?

One of the most frequent queries we get at OnlyDads is parents asking if they have to comply with their contact order. The reason for them asking is invariably concern over the other parents behaviour (drugs/alcohol/general irresponsibility) and the safety of their child. Here we have asked Myers Lister Price to set out the ground rules for us…

…Most family lawyers acting in children cases will have experience of the client who comes to them:-

a) wanting to stop contact/ being threatened with enforcement of a contact order, or

b) claiming that the ex spouse/ partner has stopped contact or is threatening to stop contact

Where it is being alleged that there is a potential risk to a child owing to the parent who is having contact taking drugs, is drunk or is simply irresponsible whilst the child is with them. Is the fact that the child’s safety is considered to be in issue a justification for breaching a court order? Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 provides that “the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration”

Under the welfare checklist in Section 3 the matters to which the court is to have regard include

“(e)      any harm he has suffered or  is at risk of suffering

(f)         how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs”

If it is being claimed that the parent who has the benefit of an order should no longer have contact owing to there being an issue with drugs, alcohol or the child’s general safety then that could potentially fall to be considered under the above paragraphs. Clearly the court has to consider the validity of the allegations which it will normally do as a separate exercise commonly called a “finding of fact” hearing and it will then move on the consider what impact that should have on contact.

Breach of a court order can amount to a contempt of court for which the ultimate sanction is committal to prison. Obviously this is an extremely serious matter and would only follow if the court considered that the breach was unjustified and wilful. In addition to committal the court has power under Section 11J of the Children Act to make an enforcement order. Subsection 3 specifically provides that the court “may not make an enforcement order if it is satisfied that the person had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the contact order”. The burden of proof is on the person claiming to have a reasonable excuse and the standard is that of the balance of probability. At the end of the day the protection of the child is paramount.

Breach of a court order is a serious matter and advice should always be sought from an experienced family solicitor.

For further advice please contact the family department at Myers Lister Price Solicitors on 0161 926 9969 or

We are holding free 30 minute family law advice evenings on the 5th October, 2nd November and 7th December 2011, to book an appointment please call us on the number above.   

Have you ever been forced to break a contact order? It would be interesting to hear why and how and what happened to you?


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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63 Responses to Can it be Appropriate to Breach a Court Order?

  1. Diana Jordan says:

    Good advice above from Myers Lister Price. The trick is to find the right solicitor. So many of them will just say that a contact order must be complied with and not be prepared to fight the case. Three particular cases spring to mind from when I was in practice, where children were clearly distressed by contact but it was hard to prove how the fathers were harming them. I fought two of the cases for several years before eventually getting the contact stopped. In all cases the guilt the mothers felt about having sent their children to contact against their better judgement was heart-breaking. Parents know their children best and must put them before an order of the court. But they must not just ignore that order: they need to ask a solicitor to write to the other parent and/or return the matter to court. If that solicitor will not do it, they need to find another who will, and a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel as well as Resolution may be better able to help. The difficulty for solicitors of course is to know which are the genuine cases and which ones are just one parent using the children to get back at the other.
    Diana Jordan

  2. ewan craig says:

    myself and wife are currently in the situation where contact has been stopped, the children reside with their mother 9my wife 0 and have weekend contact with their father via a court order.over the last several weeks there has been many comments made by both children and my wife was concerned and had worries over the emotional and phycological well being of her children and so after seeking legal advice has stopped contact completely.she has since received a nasty letter from her ex’s solicitor saying that they will be applying for a warning notice to be attached to the contact order due to her breaching it. we will be representing or self as her ex is going to apply to the courts to regain contact, her ex is a very narsatistic person and we now have the hard job of proving that my wife has a resonable reason for breaching contact. any advice or refernce points would be welcome.
    mr& mrs craig

    • onlydads says:

      Thank you for the question – it’s good that you are seeking advice.

      There are a couple of things that I would say:

      Breaking a Court Order is a serious matter. The Court will have established an Order for Dad to see his children after receiving input from advisors (CAFCASS) and presentations from both Mum and Dad.

      Have you considered asking for a variation of the Order – perhaps (and I don’t know the circumstances) a different pattern of contact needs to be established?

      If you want – contact us on if you want to talk through this situation in more detail.

      My final point is that Courts and Judges do not take to broken Court Orders lightly. As the article above states, it can be considered “contempt of court” which in turn can give rise to serious punishment.

      Thanks for contacting us


      • ewan craig says:

        hi bob, thanks for your reply. the contact order was made at the brgining of 2007 before i met my wife, this order was shown to a solicitor and we were told that there was nothing within the court / contact order which prvents my wife from ending the contact at any time. all contact orders from 2008 have a warning notice attached upon them to prevent the parent with care from with holding all contact. in this case the non residential parent (the childrens father) has began to emotionaly upset the children and use them as a weapon against my wife trying to turn them against her. he has been buying there affection when he has them and making the point to the children them neither their mother or myself buy them gift (toys) like he does when they are with him, despite the fact that my wages goes to putting a roof over their heads and food on the table. the father has not paid any proper maintanence for over 18months and does all he can to avoid doing so yet works to suit himself earning more than myself, he is currently being re-assesed by that of the csa again. i myself have been on the reseving side or the side upon where he is as i was a single parent for 15 years and have brought up two sons on my own with no contact of help from the childrens mother in nearly 20 years, so i now where most fathers are coming from 1st hand. with all this in mind i am being objective but at the same time i am disapointed and disgusted with the comments and actions of this individual giving all good fathers a bad name. i am now taking a stand to help my wife and protect my step children, i will pass on your email address to my wife so if she decides to she can contact you in more detail for that of a better understanding as to what to do and ecpect. many thanks ewan

    • joanne says:

      This makes me very sad as I my self is in the same boat hope u get it all sorted out good luck xx

    • Adrian says:

      I’m sorry but I must agree with the real father. If you are struggling to provide evidence to me it seems you are going out of your way to stop contact. In a later post you mention his maintenance payments. He obviously wants to look after them so give him more time with the children and you won’t need his money. The extra time he will have with the children will mean less for you to spend and more free time for your partner to work for extra income if you are so concerned he earns more than you is a problem. I believe a parent should have a choice of either pay maintenance or provide resident care for the children where and when it is safe and possible. This avoids parents who wants to look after their children having to keep some dignity and not be forced to pay someone they don’t want to look after their child.

  3. ewan craig says:

    myself and wife are currently in the situation where contact has been stopped, the children reside with their mother (my wife ) and have weekend contact with their father via a court order.over the last several weeks there has been many comments made by both children and my wife was concerned and had worries over the emotional and phycological well being of her children and so after seeking legal advice has stopped contact completely.she has since received a nasty letter from her ex’s solicitor saying that they will be applying for a warning notice to be attached to the contact order due to her breaching it. we will be representing or self as her ex is going to apply to the courts to regain contact, her ex is a very narsatistic person and we now have the hard job of proving that my wife has a resonable reason for breaching contact. any advice or refernce points would be welcome.
    mr& mrs craig

  4. Danny says:


    I’m Danny a father to 3 children all young 2,3 and 5, i have been going through the courts now for 19 months i now represent myself with the help of a Mckenzie friend. I moved from supervised contact to unsupervised first contact been the 14 July 2012, on the 3rd contact 4th August my youngest daughter tripped and fell over in my cousind garden she banged her head and it left a nasty bruise on her eye/cheek bone, in typical child like fashion there were tears for 5 minuites followed by carrying on playing. There was myself my childrens maternal grandmother, my cousine, her husband and their 4 children present all over 18 years of age, my ex is now stating that contcat has to be returned to the contact centre as she feels the childrens welfare is at risk, can anyone advise me, cheers.


  5. Diana Jordan says:

    Is there a court order currently in force for contact Danny? If so, it is for the court to order, not your ex to state, that contact is to be returned to the contact centre. And it is for your ex to apply to the court for this. Has she done so? In the meantime, contact should remain as ordered. If your ex is refusing to let you have the children, you will need to make an urgent application to the court to enforce the order.

    • danny colledge says:

      Yes the order was made in July 2012, for ease i will copy the extract of the email i received from her Barister, when i received i felt sick inside with anger as i’m not a neglectfull parent, please read the email i received below……..

      We refer to your email of 5th August 2012 upon which we have taken our client’s instructions.

      We have indeed been instructed that Chanell sustained some injuries whilst in your care during the last contact visit. We are instructed that Chanell came back with a bump on her head which is turning greenish, a cut on her eyelid, and some bruising around her eye and her cheekbone. We understand that you did not tell our client about the bump on Chanell’s head and our client subsequently discovered it when she got home with the children. Our client has had to take Chanell to her GP to see to the injuries. Chanell was left very unsettled when she came back to our client and was very clingy and still very upset.

      Our client was extremely concerned that you did not immediately contact her following Chanell’s injuries and when she raised this matter with you at the handover, you informed her that you did not have the mobile emergency contact number. You have confirmed in your email that you did not receive this number, despite our emailing you the same to you on 13th July 2012.
      Our client is appalled that Chanell sustained those injuries whilst in your care, which shows that Chanell was not cared for adequately during your contact. Our client is also concerned that you seem to be trying to minimize the seriousness of the injuries Chanell sustained during contact and that you have confirmed that even if you had the emergency contact number, you would not have rang our client as you felt that the incident was minor.

      In view of the incident which happened during the last contact visit when Chanell sustained her injuries whilst being in your care, our client is not prepared to make the children available for future unsupervised contact as from 25th August 2012 as she feels that the children are not safe during contact with you if they are unsupervised. We confirm that we will make a formal application to the court for the existing unsupervised contact arrangements to be suspended and for contact to be supervised again. We will ask the court to review our client’s application at the next review hearing on 26th September 2012. Until the next court hearing, our client would be prepared for contact to continue but supervised at SWAP or the Coventry Contact Centre.

      Finally, we would ask that you refrain from discussing the ongoing court proceedings with the children.

      Yours faithfully

      • Diana Jordan says:

        Communication is key to all our relationships and in your situation I am afraid that you need to report every scratch, bump and bruise and incident to your children’s mother when you hand them back. If contact has been at a centre, it would appear that the trust between you and your ex is at zero level and your job is to start rebuilding that trust, one small step at a time. Failing to report anything just takes you one or more steps backwards. Cuts and bruises often look more dramatic than they actually are and it may be that your daughter was as upset by her mother’s reaction as by her injuries.

        I suspect what the mother really means here is that she cannot feel her children are safe if you are not going to tell her when things happen to them, as inevitably they will. They are very young and you cannot blame her for feeling like that: try and put yourself in her position.

        My advice to you would be to accept supervised contact while you prepare for the September hearing. Whatever happens you must not miss a visit so make sure you do whatever you need to do to secure a place at the contact centre. It is not usually possible to get evidence from a contact centre but make notes after every visit so you can write a short statement of how they went for the next hearing. Also apologise in that statement for not informing the mother and give every assurance that you can that you will do so in future.

        Also make sure you have the emergency number you’ve been given, and use it to text something after each visit, even if it’s just what games they enjoyed, or you liked a new outfit one of the children was wearing. You have to build a co-parenting relationship, your children are very young and a long way off being independent.

        Get your MacKenzie Friend to help you prepare short witness statements from your family regarding the incident in question ie how it happened, where the adults were and why they didn’t feel any action was necessary for the injuries. There is no excuse for not informing the mother, so get them to apologise in the statement and promise that they will let her know if anything happens in the future.

        If you have not already done so, reply to this letter. You need to say you are not a neglectful parent and the injuries did not seem that bad at the time but that you accept you should have informed her mother. Apologise and give assurances for the future and ask them to make arrangements for you to see your children at the contact centre until the September hearing when you will be asking the court to re-instate the unsupervised contact.

      • danny colledge says:

        Thanks for the reply, perhaps i should have sent you the complete string. Upon returning the children i did expain to mother what had happened but it was rebutted with negative comments ” you don’t seem that bothered” in stead of getting into an argument which is something i want to avoid at all costs, it was easier to leave, but i did explain to her what had happened.

      • Diana Jordan says:

        In that case you probably need to write back and say she has to comply with the court order for unsupervised contact until the review hearing, or take it back to court sooner, but you expect to have contact as usual on the next occasion.

  6. veryworriedmum says:

    I currently have a contact order in place that allows father to take kids away for a few hours fortnightly. Previous contact some weeks ago my 2yr old daughter had her hair straightened and her face was burnt in the process whilst in his care. My 3yr old son was told to keep it secret by his father and not to tell mummy. Fortunately i noticed her hair and the burn myself and my son eventualy told me the truth the next day. I discussed the issue with father and he denied everything and said my son made it up. Im currently waiting to vary the order but am waiting for legal aid to come through. He has since had contact taking them away once since then and the same thing has happened. This time it was curling tongs and fortunately no burns. My son was once again told not to tell me which in time he did. He also told me that daddy doesnt hold their hands walking along the pavement of a busy road or hold their hands when crossing it. Knowing all of this i feel my kids are not safe when in his care and are at risk of running into the road. My daughters hair is damaged from all the heating and my son is showing a mixture of emotions from all the secrets. Would a judge consider this good reasoning to breach an order and go back to supervised contact? Your help would be realy appreciated!

  7. Diana Jordan says:

    Please read the original posts above about breaching a court order. Would you risk going to prison for these reasons?

    Asking your son to keep secrets and saying that he has made something up are damaging, potentially dangerous and this has to be stopped. Can you get your solicitor to write to your ex to explain this? If not, you will need to raise it when you go back to court to vary the order. Would your son be able to tell his father ‘Mummy says I’m not allowed to keep secrets?’

    Can you put yourself in your ex’s shoes for a minute? I assume he has recently gone from supervised to unsupervised contact and has experienced our awful adversarial court system which does not encourage openness, honesty and trust. Your instant reaction might also have been to deny and blame someone else, but hopefully he has learned from this even though he does not feel able to say so.

    Having recently heard that teenage road deaths have increased because children are taken everywhere by car and don’t have any experience of using roads I am pleased to hear that yours are getting the necessary early training. Three year olds are not always the best witnesses and it may be that it only happened once that their Dad did not hold their hands when crossing the road. Can you ask him, or ask your solicitor to ask him, to make sure he does in future? And teach the children always to hold an adult’s hand when crossing roads.

    I am mystified by the hair straightening, maybe one of the Dads out there could enlighten me? I could imagine a 12 year old asking for this and Dad obliging, but two year olds are not renowned for sitting still so burns are perhaps not surprising. Why would a Dad want to do this? I will always remember a weekend when my young nieces came to stay and one cut the other’s fringe (with blunt paper scissors, you can imagine the result) whilst I was in the kitchen. I was dreading what my brother and sister-in-law would say when they came to collect them but they were simply amused and thought nothing of it. I tell you this to remind you both that things will always happen to children even when in the best possible care, and that It is important to keep a sense of perspective. I know that’s really hard in your situation but a good question to ask yourself is ‘how much will this matter in a year’s time?’.

    Have you both been on a PIP? (Separated parents information programme.) This father needs some help and encouragement to care for his children well so that you can enjoy, rather than fret through, your few well-earned hours off.

    • veryworriedmum says:

      We have both been on the pip yes. The problem i have is that hes been spoken to before about holding hands as he didnt hold my sons hand on supervised outings before. And is clearly still choosing not to. Ive always taught my kids to hold an adults hand when crossing roads or when near where cars are. But hes not teaching them road safety and puting them at risk. This is a man that in the past opened low windows wide on the second floor level with the kids walking around. once told to close them because of the kids hed complain and secretly open them when i left the room but not watch them. id walk in to find my son at the window. so you can see where my fears come from.

      • Diana Jordan says:

        It’s hard enough being a single parent without having to live with this level of anxiety; you need some help to get this sorted out. I can’t make any suggestions without knowing more of the background but if you’d like to email me ( we can arrange a time to talk so we can find the best way forward for you.

  8. jonahs 37 says:

    omg. there s so many stories. ours is we got a contact order for my g/son who s 4 he clearly dont want to be with his father and g/father, he had supervised contact in front of caffcass for 3 hrs then his fiirst unsupervised out for 2 hrs which he cancelled the caffcass then said he could take him from 10.30 – til 3pm away from contact centre , but he brought him back half hour early and stayed in contact centre with him til end of contact, some thing happen in that contact because my g/son now doesnt want to see him , we been back to court this last week and my daughter the mother was told she was in breech of the order because the very last contact my g/son flately refused to go so was an effort to get him in contact centre for hand over , once i left still hearing him cry, kick and shout out mummy dont leave me, within 25 minutes i was called back to collect him where my ex set upon me as i walked through the door and in front of my g/son bad mouthed the mother and said i.ll see u in court and im going for a residency order and i demand caffcass here in two weeks for next contact to prove u bad mouthing me his dad and brain washing him. like i say we been back to court since and i was advised by my solicitor i could be facing prison, that the father felt we sabotarged contact that we bride my g/son so he would allow contact to take place, now we been warned not to say where we going on contact days not to promise him any goodies, to speak kind of his dad , and not to be anywhere in the area while the dad has contact . its total pathetic is he a man or mouse, he playing the victim , i feel its discusting the way solicitros , courts and caffcass treat my daughter, the father dont really want contact he s trying to provoke us , he doesnt pay for his child nor say s he has a obligation towards him, he has no bond with him doesnt say he loves him, or cuddles him or even touch him, and yet now the court having a hearing to prove which one of us started the outburst in the contact centre. its all about scoring points and proving with my ex husband , my son says he cannot say what he likes or dont like or how he feels or what schools been like cos daddy says he dont care and not interested, now caffcass out of the picture because they all sick with stress that was appointed to our case and no one wants to take it on, i have no one to turn to or any support and my solicitor justs wants the case closed, what emontial harm is this doing to my g/son.

  9. Mr w says:

    In need of free legal advice as legal aid has been withdrawn . Have been cornered into excepting her terms even tho she is clearly in breach of court order for Christmas contact.

  10. woody says:

    This information has come to us at a very needed time thankyou.

  11. Mrs C says:

    Can someone offer me help please.
    My son is 3 years and goes to his dad’s fortnightly for one night stay. Last year he came back staying daddy’s girlfriend shouted ”SHUT UP” aggressively then sent to the naughty step for a long period of time, I questioned this and asked what happened he denied this happened.
    While potty training my son he did great for two weeks then returned from his dad’s on the Sunday evening, when asked to use the potty he screamed and cried ”that’s for bad boys daddy said”. After leaving it 8 months I finally have him potty trained when his dad didn’t want to collect him for contact.
    He has told me that daddy’s girlfriend has smacked him, I question his dad and was told this would never happen. I seeked legal advice and was told I should not break to contact order. To which I didn’t but asked each contact if he was good or told off then asked my son. He seemed alright but always said he had to play quietly on his own.
    Last week I spoke to a Health Professional regarding his behaviour and she seems to think that his behaviour shows that he is comfortable at home and that his time away from us isn’t good and feels uncomfortable there and is letting it all out at us.
    My son has told me over the last two weeks that its horrible at daddy house as Nanny and Grandad fight him and punch his belly he’s then sent to the naughty step for crying. Also that Daddy and his girlfriend throw games and toys at him and shout at him.
    I had to walk away from my son after he told me and cried out of sight, I can’t let him go through all this mental and physical pain. His dad hates driving for an hour to collect him and always moans about the cost. Is he taking it out on him?
    He is due to go for contact this weekend, would I be in my right to stop contact?
    Mrs C

  12. vicky says:

    i have been going through court for 3yr now my ex partner who was violent and very abbusive towards me was issued with a injunction for 12months for the violence he did not break this, i went to court 2month ago and the judge allowed him indirect contact for 8weeks (letters cards and pressants) witch he did stick to. i missesd court a few days ago and the court issued him supervised contact with my 2 kids witch are 5 and 4 yrs old and dont know who he is what would happen if i do not take my kids to supervised contact and just ignore these letters? can caffcass take my kids from there school without my permission to see there father?

  13. ms kelly smealdy says:

    My contact weekends run every three weekends in the court order me and my ex partner have in place for our daughter. School holidays are shared one between each parties. This means Mon-Fris ( school days ), are shared equally I have said im willing if he wants to go away with our daughter he can go into one of my contact weekends. Which is fine by me but he demands that this is his
    right to do so. As far as im aware these are my contact weekends provided by the court order and only way he can have contact with her on these days are if I say so. Tell me am I wrong?.


  14. Louise says:

    My husband has a court order which states the contact he can have with his son. His son stays with us every full weekend, and comes over for tea on a Wednesday. We take him on holiday twice a year – we are all under the impression that either parent can take the child on holiday at anytime, but not out of the country for longer than six weeks. We always inform mum and books months in advance. We’ve had no issues, but then she seems to enjoy the break!

  15. Cat flannigan says:

    I have a 4 year old son went to court for contact order in 2011 to which ex partner never filed evidence or complied with drugs test or turned up to last hearing – since then I have been harrassed and asulte in front of our child they have been arrested 3 times charged 2times and giving a restraining order I suspended contact since April 2013 after they threaten me and was reported to police advice from polie to stop contact while they was on bail he was charged found guilty and givin retraining order we offere contact center they refused then in oct my solicitor received a letter refusing contact center and to take him court we were not doin app to apply for legal aid I was by this time 7monts pregnant in November he was arrested and charged and found guilty of harressment and breach or restraining order and give custodial sentence on top I then had my daughter in dec which delayed the legal aid now I have a letter said I breache contact order but I was looking out for safety of my son who does not want to see him and is up set by the thought
    I still understand my sons to see his father but I want them to build up a relationship first and for the abuse to me to stop
    Am I in wrong? I have court next week and I don’t want to be seen as wrong

  16. cathy lee says:

    My child’s father has contact overnight every other week end and for the day on Saturday every other he has just moved house and is refusing to give me his new address for emergency purposes as I only have his mobile number I am very worried about sending my child overnight especially since he came back with an allergic reaction to cheap wash powder after his dad changed him into PJs that he provides he didn’t tell me till five o’clock the next day and only asked what’s that on his legs I thought he was talking about his eczema but when I got him home he was covered in a rash and I had to take him to the out of hours gp who confirmed it was the wash powder what do people suggest thanks Cathy x

  17. Joanna says: ex husband has breached the court order, he is now 5 days over the agreed date. His excuse was 1st, car broke down, but he has no car? then he was ill?..and his last comment is as I am not “Behaving” myself, I am besides myself with worry? police will not act, and my solicitor is trying to contact him.If anyone has any advise, much appreciated

  18. Ian Mccarthy says:

    The court has issued an order which states my wife has to be in the. house at six pm so I can. ring my kids she has broken the order four times and now I am taking her back to court to answer to the Judge as this is a blatant disregard to the order
    She pleases her self when it suits her.

  19. Barry woods says:

    I breached court as my daughter was self harming at home with her mother. I have her every weekend and on on weekend I notice a dressing on her arm she said I feel over so I pulled the dressing bk and she had self harmed she cried and said I do it worse if I go no so police come out for child abducting but had to over rule the courts as child welfare come first now I bk in court for breaching any advice thanks.

  20. Diana Jordan says:

    If you breach a court order you risk going to prison. If it’s the first or second time you’ve breached it, and you have a genuine reason for doing so, the risk is very small. Sometimes parents have to take risks for their children. As you say, your daughter’s welfare comes first.
    Prepare well for court. If you can’t afford a solicitor, make sure you take a McKenzie Friend who can help keep you on track if you get emotional or are thrown by something unexpected. Two heads are better than one. If you can, take advice from an appropriate solicitor beforehand so you are as well prepared as you possibly can be.
    Keep your daughter safe and good luck.

  21. ste says:

    my partner is having problems over her contact order, the grandparents are to make her son available for contact etc,they are refusing to make her son available until mediation is arranged, this is not part of the contact order, she has not seen her son for 7mth (contact no less than every 6wk), she has explained that this is distressing for her son as he is 4 in Dec, contact was going well with no problems for nearly 3yrs,they keep refusing contact but dont give a valid reason i.e my conduct or safeguarding reasons, there is a warning notice on the court order, i feel if i take this back to court they will become hostile but she needs to continue the bond with her son.
    Would it be safe for her to write to them and state i will ask the court to enforce the order as they clearly are breaching a court order?.
    She would not like them to get a criminal record for breaching the order but feels that they are ailenating her son.
    Can anyone advise the best course to take

  22. LC says:

    I have a 6 year old who up until October has had contact as per a defined contact order with her father.
    Her father has not adhered to the order on numerous occasions which has caused upset and a knock on effect in school and at home. I do need to say my child is autistic and the court order was put in place prior to a full diagnosis.
    The main difficulty my child struggles from is social communication and will zone out during conversations, at times going into a world away from reality.

    Following visits I have been told some quite disturbing things from my child e.g. Promised to go swimming but that didn’t happen because dad says I have an ear infection, this has then led to distressing and disruptive behaviour in school because she can because her dad said she is ill. However, no contact with the GP, no antibiotics supplied and no ear infection when I took her to the doctors.
    She has said she has been locked in her room whilst her dad sleeps during the day, she wakes up and he is not there because he hasn’t come home from the night before…… I could go on.

    So, in October I instructed my solicitor to write to him asking for an interim reduction in contact because our daughters behaviour was affected by contact with him, if he wouldn’t agree I suggest we attend mediation. No response.

    He then moves someone in with a criminal record and a history of drug use, who I discover is sleeping in my daughters room.

    As visitation has just happened another letter went out to him raising my previous and now new concerns and saying get them out of your house – no response

    My daughter goes and comes back saying the person is still in her room. I have had another letter sent advising I am stopping contact and starting the mediation process.

    He has refused mediation and I am awaiting the paperwork to start court proceedings.

    I know I am breaching a contact order, I believe with reasonable concerns and I have tried to get a dialogue going because my daughter deserves a relationship with her father just not at her detriment. Court terrifies me.

    Is there anything else I should/could be doing and will I be penalised by the court for breaching the order?

  23. Geraldine says:

    My son wife stopped him seeing his daughter 9 mounths ago he as so far spent 2000 on soliceters trying to see her ,is wife got her freinds involved .they shouted abuse at him taunted him not seeing his daughter ever this went on for mounths till he snapped ,and made threts to kill this is what the mother and her freinds wanted this is all because he got engaged she as compleatley used there daughter he as now been found guillty of threts so he thinks he as blown all changes of seeing his daughter what do you think he knows he was silly to snap after all them mounths but he was in so much stress missing his daughter .

    • ian Mccarthy says:

      My wife has breached a court order for contact 12 times she has been warned by the court and still persists to show contempt. This time I am taking her back to court for contempt and hopefully the Judge will impose a fine. She is basically sticking her two fingers. up to the court.

      • anthony harte says:

        Is there any update on your case Ian, I have done the same thing, money started in January, we are putting our statements in now, but I’ve been told by her solicitor to not pursue the breaches, what’s the point?? I have no solicitor can’t afford one, how is your case going? My ex breached 5 times, she has admitted 4, so what’s the point??

      • ian Mccarthy says:

        I dropped the last contempt case thinking it would make her more amicable sadly it failed a new contact order was made and she did it again this time I’m taking her back to court.l don’t know your financial state but if you are on certain benefits it won’t cost you anything to take out an Enforcement order. You can defend your self you don’t need a solicitor. I advise you to get as much information from Internet on contempt write it down along with all the breaches of order. Take it to court and get an Enforcement order fill it in and take it back to court. Don’t let her get away with it.

  24. anthony harte says:

    I am a father and primary carer of our 3 year old son and have been for the past 2 years after respondent mother was arrested for neglect and cruelty towards our then, 1 year old child, charges were dropped 5 months later to me disgust! Anyway I took her to court and was granted a child arrangements order in July 2014, we are now going through court again because she has breached this order 5 times. 4 of which she has admitted to, the court has asked has she breached with good cause, my question other than emergencies is there good cause?? And what is the point of having any safeguarding conditions to protect my son, if his mother can repeatedly breach the court order and nothing happens to her? Her solicitor has told me that it’s pointless trying to get the court to pursue the breaches because the courts will not reprimand her for the breaches!! So what is the point?? What is the point of me following the court order if nothing happens if it’s breached? I need urgent advice on what to do?? She has legal representation but I cannot afford one, is there anywhere I can get a free solicitor for this case, I have been told by her present partner that the statement they have done is very good, and she is asking for joint custody. Surely the law is an ass if she can be brought back to court, not punished in anyway and actually comes out of the final hearing better off than before I took her to court

  25. Steve79 says:

    I have a shared care agreement of 3 days a week. A court order has been forced on me because my wife applied for it and thinks my professional vocation as a nurse working shifts is too disruptive to my commitment to my daughter. Prior to the order we had occasional disputes over what days i look after my daughter and sometimes I would go to collect and she would turn me away for no reason. but now she is using the court order as an excuse not to communicate with me and will do things like cut my daughters hair without consulting me and also not inform me if she has been ill. I am absolutely disgusted with the family court and no one should ever be granted a court order just because they paid for it to be processed. Guys can you tell me if I am still allowed to take a Holiday to visit my best friend in Canada, will this violate the order as I cannot trust the woman whatsoever not to try and report me for violating the order in place. Surely I should still be entitled to a holiday ever year, bearing in mind this order will last until my 4 year old is sixteen! Is a holiday reasonable violation of the order? Thanks for any help as I have my nurse registration to consider and I can lose it if I am in any trouble with the law (another reason I think she has done this to get at me). She also applied for the order to reduce my contact but so far has not won.

  26. Bebop says:

    In all fairness I don’t see why on earth a full time mother wouldn’t jump at the chance for free time . My question is about a breach in the order. First one was ok ish time was a bit less by 15 minutes due to no court papers being given to supported centre . Second; Turned up too early than stated on order. Thirdly: Didn’t attend. So 3 times it had been atranged before next cout date. Are they all classed as breaches?

  27. Diana Jordan says:

    Steve79, a holiday is not a violation of an order. Of course you’re entitled to a holiday (I’m assuming you’re not planning to take your daughter with you, though you should be entitled to that too) but it needs to be negotiated with your wife, who is also entitled to one. You also need to give her plenty of notice. Even if she will speak to you, in this sort of circumstance it’s better to put it in writing and keep a copy.
    This is a civil, not a criminal, matter so I doubt that it would affect your nurse registration.
    And please try and keep any disputes and conflict away from your daughter – it may not be your fault, but it’s certainly not hers.

    Bebop, there are two reasons why a mother doesn’t jump at the chance for free time. The first is when she’s worried so sick about what’s going to happen to her children while they’re away she can’t do anything with that time. The second is when she’s using her children to get at their father. It’s the unenviable job of judges to work out which is which. Why does it matter so much if they’re classed as breaches? She won’t be sent to prison the first time if that’s what you’re hoping. You don’t mention your child/ren, what’s in their best interests here? Parents who fight are the last thing they need. Can you not go to mediation?

  28. tk says:

    Ok where to begin, in 2010 i agreed and signed consent orders that my ex have the kids 9 nights a fortnight and i 5 because i was studying and working oart time at the time, we agreed it was going to be an understanding between us and share the kids if i was to have a day off and so forth, but as time has passed his fone nothing but made my life hell, his parents and sisters say bad things about me and call me names infront of my kids, then my kids started refusing to go with him, i called him to come to his daughter properly and take her willingly & that i wasn’t going to take her over kicking and screaming, over time its just escalating and now my kids are refusing to leave with him at school so the police are getting involved, last week my daughter refused to go so i took her to go speak with her father and he locked her in the house, she was banging on the window crying yelling mum help me dads behind the door and he wont let me out, last i seen of her till i called the police to come and do a welfare check on her. He kept her from school for 2 days locked the doors and windows and she refused to eat for 2 days & lastly they both refused to leave the school with their dad so he tried to drag our son and a teacher seen and the police was called, i went but the police said because of the consent orders they have to enforce the child to go with their father. I work rent and live independently with my kids when their in my care, i called for legal advice and the lawyer said i would need at least 5 grand to get the ball rolling, im am so worried about my kids and their state of mind if my daughters willing starve herself im afraid of whats next! Please tell me my rights and what i can do i can eat or sleep or even go to work im so broken and feel im failing them. His family state to the kids i cant afford to take him to court! My kids are 12 & 14

  29. Diana Jordan says:

    I’m sorry you’re in such a difficult position tk. On the one hand your duty as a citizen is to obey court orders and on the other hand your duty as a mother is to protect your children. In my book the latter is the overriding duty, though not all lawyers will agree with me.

    It’s unusual for the police to take that position: usually they won’t get involved, saying that court orders are civil matters and you need to go back to court, so it’s unfortunate you had that experience.

    Your children are old enough to know their own minds, and too big to drag them kicking and screaming when they don’t want to go. If you can’t afford to apply to the court to vary the order (and as the solicitor you spoke to said, the £5k is just to start the proceedings, it could be £20k before you’re finished) your ex will take you back to court for breaching the order if the children don’t go. That way he will pay the lion’s share of the fees and you won’t have to get a solicitor: you could either have a McKenzie Friend or a direct access barrister if you don’t want to go to court on your own. There are more options these days and you can do a lot yourself and just get help when you need it to make it more affordable.

    Obviously breaking a court order is a serious matter, but you’re certainly not going to be sent to prison the first time, especially when you’ve got good reason for the breach. You do however need to be collecting evidence to back up your case. Make sure you’ve got the crime numbers from the police for each time they’ve been involved. Keep a diary: write the date for each entry and make a note of everything that happens because you won’t remember it all when you get to a final hearing in a year’s time. As well as the events, record how the children react to them, things they say, how they are in themselves. Keep in touch with the school to see if there are any issues with the children there and make a note of them too. And keep any relevant text messages, emails etc.

    If you’re not going to comply with the court order as it is, you need to do what you can to be reasonable in the circumstances. First of all, you can write to your ex (keep a copy) and ask if he’ll go to mediation with you rather than going to court. (If you can’t be in the same room together you can ask for shuttle mediation.) Then if the children don’t want to stay overnight with him, will they go out with him for a day, or a few hours, say to McDonalds or a park or other public place where he’s likely to behave better and there will be other people around if they’re worried? Is there a friend of the family who would be acceptable to your ex to be there when he sees the children? Will your son see his father even if your daughter won’t, they don’t always have to go together if it would work better another way. Do all you can to encourage your children to speak to their father on the phone as often as possible and make a diary note of all the contact.

    Does your ex have narcissistic personality disorder, or is he just angry? It’s easier to deal with this sort of situation if you know what you’re dealing with. Google it if you don’t know. It also sounds as if your ex is trying to alienate your children from you so have a look at parental alienation too. Information is power here, you’ve done well posting your question, keep researching.

    A trip to the zoo would be informative for your research: study a mother bear and model her behaviour. Court order, or protect her cubs?? I suspect you’ve been worn down by all that’s happened and have lost your confidence but it’s time to step out of victim mode, reclaim your power and stand up for your children. Don’t be bullied, and don’t allow your children to be bullied.

  30. luke robinson says:

    My ex has stopped contact with my son because I have used drugs when ive been out to parties. I have never been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when I have had my son under my care but now her lawyer is saying that further contact will not bepossible until they change the contact order. Any advice on this would be appreciated.

  31. Diana Jordan says:

    How old is your son Luke? What is the current contact order and what are they saying they want to change it to? Has an application been made yet to take it back to court? Have you asked what you need to do to have contact pending another court hearing? Do you have a friend or relative who could supervise your contact while this is being sorted out?

    • Court orders are a waste of time my wife has broken more orders than you care to name . The courts do nothing. I spent £ 22.000 in solicitors fees fighting for access. What a waste of money. I haven’t seen them for 2 years. So the courts can go and piss off bunch of arseholes.

      • Luke says:

        Hi Diana,

        She wont accept mediation. Shes now agreeing to a contact centre but it was over 2 months ago that i last spent time with him (17th February).

        She is from Brazil and doesnt have much family here and recently moved to Bournemouth so i dont know anyone that would be willing to help. She isnt really interested in making this easy for me and my understanding is that she is looking to reduce contact from every other weekend to only via contact centres (i live in london which is over 100 miles from her new home so traveling so far And paying a contact centre will be too expensive for me to sustain regular contact). I just want my son to grow up feeling loved by his dad and for that to happen i feel i need to be present.

    • Luke says:

      Thank you for getting back to me. He is 15 months and ive had very little contact with him since last november. We had a contact order to state that I should have him every other weekend but then she decided shes not letting me see him and hasnt given me any insights into what she wants the order changing to.
      She wont let any of my friends supervise and has recently said I can see him through a contact centre after two months. I have booked an appointment with a GP to ask for a drugs test to prove im not dependant (which i think is what she is claiming). I am also getting statements from people I work with to prove I am at work 5 days a week sober.

      Any information/advice on my rights or what I could do to help my case would be really appreciated.


      • Diana Jordan says:

        You’re doing all the right things Luke. I would say that every other weekend isn’t great for a child that young: you really need to be seeing him little and often though I realise that’s probably not going to be an option in your case.
        Why do you have to wait two months to go to a contact centre? This is urgent as two months is an eternity in the life of a 15 month old. Do make sure you follow up on it though and make the booking if you need to. Contact centres aren’t great, but you must take every opportunity you can to see your little boy and do whatever’s asked of you at this stage, however humiliating/unnecessary it may be, as the longer you go without seeing your child, the harder the situation gets. But you sound as though you have the ability to rise above the obstacles that are put in your way in order to do your best by your son.
        If she won’t let any of your friends supervise, will she let any of hers, or her family? It would be better for your son to be somewhere/with someone he knows, although I know it could be hard for you.
        You do need to check if your ex has made an application to go back to court and, if not, you need to make one as soon as possible. Although mediation would be a much better option. Could that be a possibility? Shuttle mediation if you can’t be in the same room?

  32. WG says:

    Good Morning All,

    Thank you for this post, it is very helpful. I have a strange case and would really appreciate some advice. In 2008 my ex and I had a residency order made (to which i agreed) for our 1st daughter to reside with mum. Seven years later we rekindled our relationship and have been living together for over 2 years. We now also have a second child. I came home from work the other day and was denied access to my home. Basically the mum suggested we go ‘on a break’. During this conversation she admitted to self harming which follows a long period of mental illness. The mental illness has been largely managed because she has had my support in the home, my employer has allowed me to work flexibly to best support her, especially with our daughters. initially there was part of my shift pattern which involved working 6 days and around 57 hours, these are the weeks that mums mental health would take a massive nosedive so now I only work for 4 days maximum in a row. I have concerns that now I am not in the house that the situation will become really bad for her, especially as we have an admittance that self harming has begun to take place again. Where do i stand with removing my girls from the home to prevent anything bad happening? Especially as I have a court order for my first daughter. I would expressly like to say that no harm has come to my children that I am currently aware of but I don’t wish to find myself in a situation where I should have done more and it is too late. I don’t wish to prevent mum seeing the girls as that isn’t in the best interests of the children but I really feel that they need to be removed from any potential danger. Thank you

  33. Diana Jordan says:

    Your priority must be to keep your girls safe WG, whatever a court order may say. That said, you don’t specify what the potential danger to them is. Sadly these days lots of people self harm, but that doesn’t mean they will harm anyone else, or not be able to care for their children.
    Would mum go to mediation with you? If you take her straight to court my worry is she would immediately be on the defensive, or even seek to attack you. Whereas you may be able to come to an agreement in mediation that she will let you know if she’s struggling so that you can care for the girls until she’s back on her feet.
    Although the court order still stands, a lot has changed since you agreed to that, not least that you now have another child. So if you were to breach it by taking your daughter in order to keep her safe, the court is unlikely to hold it against you. And of course mum would need to be well enough to take you back to court in the first place. If you could reach an agreement in mediation you could then apply to vary the order with mum’s consent and without the need to go to court.
    Maybe you could contact one of the mental health charities to find out what help might be available for mum to help keep your children safe and well cared for.

    • WG says:

      Thank you for the reply Diana, it is appreciated. I cannot say what, if any, danger mums mental health could present the children. I have hearsay evidence that mum (whilst I was at work before my shifts were changed) had a mini breakdown and basically sat down in the road with our youngest daughter in the pram. I cannot prove this and hope it isn’t true but it was reported to the NSPCC and we had Social services involved. I defended mum with social services as I was providing support at home.There was no evidence of this in her demeanour when I cam home from work. I appreciate people may be thinking that I am saying this now as a way to get back at her for the breakdown in our relationship but I was willing to grant residency many years ago as it was financially the best option for us all and would be willing to do so now if things were different. I just have this gut feeling, call it sixth sense if you will, that things will deteriorate very quickly. I don’t want to be dealing with a tragedy because I didn’t take action but I am also scared to take action because I don’t want to lose contact with my girls because I take, what may be seen as drastic action. Mum has refused to take help from mental health services in the past and when I mentioned it she became very hostile. I also don’t believe mediation would succeed as this failed many years ago for the original court order. Mum has a really bad adviser in her ear all the time which makes any dialogue really difficult. Overall, I just want to protect my girls, all 3 of them and do what I should do as a dad. Thank you again

      • Diana Jordan says:

        There’s no reason why you would lose contact with your girls. If mum denies you contact you must make an immediate application to the court, don’t delay as courts don’t work quickly, but they will order lots of time with you, if not living with you.
        I would suggest you give mum the choice at this point, tell her you’re very concerned and ask if she would prefer court, mediation, or social services…. or just to let the girls live with you until she’s feeling a bit better, then you wouldn’t need a court order. Tell her doing nothing is not an option from your point of view but at the moment the choice is hers as to which route you go.
        The good news is that your eldest is quite a bit older now and can tell people what’s happening, and probably go for help if need be. Has she got a mobile phone so she can contact you if necessary?

      • WG says:

        Once again, thank you for your reply Diana, my concern was that if I try to take the girls, then the courts at a later date would deny me contact, or at least the contact they need. There is no doubt that mum needs proper help, it is something I have pushed for 2 years but the MH services being what they are have left her disillusioned and therefore she refuses now to engage with them. We have managed her MH because I have been there. She stopped taking her medication and things improved (or at least it seemed). I know from talks in the last few days that if I mentioned taking the girls, if even for a period of time, then contact would stop. I also believe that parent alienation is starting to take place… I was witness to a message stating that I refused to do something for our eldest even though no conversation had taken place between us. I really want to do what is best, and I believe I know what that is, but I am scared. We all know that the legal system is geared towards the mother and doing something that may be deemed as rash will never look good on me. I appreciate that it doesn’t matter about ‘how it looks’ as that isn’t important, but as I said before, I don’t want to do too little too late. Oh and no my eldest does not have a mobile phone, she can facetime via mums ipad but this would never be private. Thank you again for the replies.

      • Diana Jordan says:

        I’m afraid we don’t all know that the legal system is geared towards the mother. (See for instance That used to be the case, but you’re rather out of date WG! Fathers are definitely getting preferential treatment these days but I’m hoping it will be the children’s turn very soon. The court will not stop your contact whatever you do – unless you were to come across a rogue judge who is bucking the current trend. A little local knowledge goes a long way and you also need to know how long it would take your court to list your application if mum stopped your contact.
        I still feel unhappy about you just taking the girls. They will need to see their mother or they will worry about her. Then what’s to stop mum just taking them back and it will be an awful tug of war for the children. Can you not involve another adult? A counsellor or headteacher at the school, or
        a friend or relative who can help persuade her the children will be better off with you while she gets herself to a better place.

      • WG says:

        I apologise for that sweeping statement Diana and I appreciate your input. I also totally agree that the children should always get the preferential treatment as ultimately it is about them and not mum or I. I do believe it is their best interests for mum to get the help she needs and to be able to look after them and herself properly. Taking the girls is most definitely the very last resort and not something I do willingly, I know they need us both to be positive influences. I will explore the options you have given and also try to speak to the MH workers that were previously involved. I do know however that she would never willingly, even to help herself, allow the children to live with me. Maybe if she just agrees and continues to prove that she is engaging with the appropriate services then the option of taking the girls will never come to pass, especially as they rely on me for financial support. I thank you again for taking the time to respond

  34. Tina says:

    My daughter that you talk about on here to seek advice, why are you telling so many lies.
    My daughter had depression, why did she have depression WG. I tell you why your youngest daughter was born with lung problems at the same time her step dad was diagnosed with Lung cancer who died 6 month after your daughter was born my daughter seeker the support from doctors herself no support came from you . To busy doing other WGThere’s a lot I could say too WG but I will save that for another time

    • WG says:

      Hi Tina, thanks for the input. of course there is always more to a story than can or should be written on a public forum. Unfortunately mum had her MH largely ignored for a very long time, mainly stemming from a massive lack of support from the professionals and her close family over the years. Yes those are two of the reasons that contributed towards her periods of depression along with the sadness she had for the loss of our 3rd child. I never claim to be perfect or to have all the answers but I can safely say that I offered as much support as I was able, all whilst working a terrible shift pattern and being responsible for most of the work around the home.
      Yes, according to the school system it is appropriate to call social services because your child comes to school upset because she has been shouted at for not doing as she is told. reassuringly after full engagement with Social services, these cases were immediately closed.
      Thankfully I have not revealed any personal information here and there are certainly no lies. If there is anyone who thinks they know those involved here and wishes to discuss the matter with me then I suggest it is done privately and I will happily respond.

  35. Tina says:

    WG Oh and social service was called with concerns with your relationship with your daughters.

    If you are going to give personal information out then please at least tell the truth and give honest facts because lies will always get you caught out.

  36. Tina says:

    I feel sorry for you WG. I hope you find your happiness. Just a little advice stick to the truth and provide the facts because people in the the end will see right through you for who you really are as they have done so before.
    There is so much to say but feel somethings are better left unsaid until the right moment. I wish you well.

    Have a good day

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