Enforcing a contact order can be a difficult matter for courts. A common complaint is that courts are too slow or reluctant to enforce a contact order. Many courts fail to enforce them at all in some people’s opinions.
Usually a court will have to investigate how the order has been breached, if at all, and if so the court will want to investigate why these breaches have occurred. The court will be primarily concerned with the welfare of the child or children involved, rather than the rights of either parent.
If the court does find that an order has been breached without good reason it is often difficult to decide how to enforce the order while putting the child’s welfare first. There have been a number of cases in recent years when a court has taken a harder line against those who disobey orders.
John Bolch highlights one example of a court taking a tough approach. The case involved one parent, the mother, who wouldn’t follow instructions from the court to obey its orders regarding two children living with the mother. The father applied for the court to enforce the order regarding contact with his children but the matter kept being adjourned when the mother failed to attend the hearings. After a few months the father issued an application to have the mother sent to prison for breach of the order. The court decided the mother should be committed to prison for 21 days for continuous breach of the order.
John concludes that the above case should serve as a warning to others that obeying court order does have consequences.