Monday, December 8, 2008

Parent Wars: Contact Enforcement

The measures in the Children & Adoption Act 2006 take effect in England & Wales as of today enabling judges to send parents in breach of contact orders to attend parenting classes, pay a fine or compensation. Those who do not comply can be ordered to do community service.

My reservations about overstretched courts not having the resources are echoed in The Times and there are doubts as some lawyers and solicitors fear the measures could backfire and inflame family relations.

10/12/08 Updates;-
Lucy Reed of Pink Tape rightly points out in this post that the Times article is slightly misleading in that courts already have the power to imprison and the new measures may lead to even fewer committals. Also a person subject to an enforcement order will be punished for contempt of court but not criminalised by the provisions as suggested.

In his post New Children Act Forms John Bolch of Family Lore describes amendments to the existing Children Act form C1 and the newly prescribed Children Act forms brought about by the Family Proceedings (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules 2008.


Anonymous,  11 December, 2008 02:12  

Well me as Dad who could have quite easily got these powers invoked up until November of this year(sweet 16)(Court order broken from day, in fact before day...but that is another story)
Would certainly not be taking them up, it was the legal argument that got us into this mess in the first place.

There needs to follow up in the sense of mediation services.
By giving acrimonious parents the opportunity to humiliate each other with fines or a community orders I think is total counter productive.

You come out the other side of bad divorce arguing about everything, you even start saying I have proof for everything.

Bad Idea

Fiona 11 December, 2008 02:22  

I agree. I also believe classes early on in separation would go along way to providing couples with the information and strategies they need to avoid contact breaking down in most cases.

familoo 13 December, 2008 22:01  

Of course it isn't just enforcement powers that the new law has given to the court. Also introduced are powers to direct the parents to attend classes, programmes, counselling or information meetings, the idea being that all available options at getting to the underlying cause of the dispute would be tried BEFORE going on to enforce. Unfortunately its still very unclear what services will be made available for the parents to attend and the extent of the financial support for them to do so. There is concern that there will be a lack of resources to bring the act to life, either locally or nationally.

Fiona 14 December, 2008 18:16  

Thanks familoo. It's a real shame because I'm sure timely intervention would make a lot of difference.

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