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How can I enforce a Child Arrangements Order?

How can I enforce a Child Arrangements Order?

Child Arrangements Order

Child Arrangements Orders (CAOs) are court orders that determine with whom a child will live, spend time, and have contact with. While it is ideal for all parties involved to comply willingly with the order, there may be instances where enforcement becomes necessary. We are often asked the question, ‘How can I enforce a Child Arrangements Order?’

In the UK, enforcing a Child Arrangements Order involves understanding family law and following specific legal procedures. In this blog, we will explore how one can enforce a Child Arrangements Order and the role family law plays in such an enforcement.

Enforcing a Child Arrangements Order

When a Child Arrangements Order is in place but not being adhered to, the non-compliance can be distressing for both the child and the parent seeking to spend time with them. However, it is crucial to follow the legal steps to ensure enforcement and protect the best interests of the child.

 Here are the key steps involved in enforcing a Child Arrangements Order:

Seek legal advice

If you encounter difficulties in enforcing a Child Arrangements Order, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor. They will guide you through the process, assess the situation, and provide you with appropriate advice based on your circumstances.

Mediation and negotiation

Before considering legal action, it may be beneficial to attempt Family mediation to resolve the dispute amicably. Mediation involves a neutral third party assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If successful, this can help avoid the need for court intervention.

Applying for enforcement
Form C79

If mediation fails or is inappropriate, you can apply to the court for enforcement. You will need to complete a Form C79 and provide evidence of the breach of the Child Arrangements Order.

The court will review your application and make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

Types of Enforcement Orders

The court has several options when enforcing a Child Arrangements Order, such as:

Warning Notices: The court may issue a warning notice to the non-compliant party, emphasizing the importance of complying with the order and the potential consequences of continued non-compliance.

Variation or addition to the order: The court may modify the existing Child Arrangements Order to accommodate the needs of the child or address issues that have arisen.

Community-based Orders: In some cases, the court may impose community-based orders, such as unpaid work requirements or attendance at specific programs, to encourage compliance.

Fines and financial penalties: The court can impose fines or financial penalties on the non-compliant party for breaching the Child Arrangements Order.

Enforcement through enforcement officers: In extreme cases, the court may appoint enforcement officers to intervene and facilitate the enforcement of the order.

Documenting breaches

It is crucial to document any breaches of the Child Arrangements Order, including dates, times, and details of the incidents. This documentation can serve as evidence in court proceedings and strengthen your case. The court takes breaches of a CAO seriously, and repeated non-compliance can have legal consequences.

…It is not always possible for parents to agree upon the arrangements for their children, and when this occurs, specialist and focused legal advice is required. – DFA Law

Family Law and Enforcement

Family law plays a significant role in enforcing Child Arrangements Orders. The primary consideration of family courts is the welfare of the child. They aim to ensure that the child has a meaningful relationship with both parents, promoting stability, and safeguarding their best interests.

While the court’s intention is to encourage compliance with Child Arrangements Orders, it has the authority to enforce them if necessary. Family law empowers the court to take appropriate action when a parent or guardian fails to comply, using a range of enforcement measures as outlined above.


Child sitting on a benchEnforcing a Child Arrangements Order can be a challenging process.  It is important to acknowledge that the best option, whenever possible, is for both parties to practice open communication and put their differences aside to prioritise what is ultimately best for the child – ensuring that the child’s needs are met and that the Child Arrangements Order is upheld.  This approach promotes stability, minimizes stress for the child, and allows them to maintain healthy relationships with both parents.

However, we do recognise that every situation is unique, and in some cases, open communication and cooperation may not be possible. In such instances, understanding family law and seeking legal advice becomes necessary to enforce the Child Arrangements Order and protect the child’s welfare.

Family Mediation is considered the preferred approach by both the courts and the government when it comes to resolving disagreements related to Child Arrangements. The court encourages parents to explore family mediation wherever possible as it can lead to better outcomes for all parties involved, particularly the child.



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