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When a court makes an order, it is legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. Unfortunately, there are instances where one parent may disregard or breach a court order, causing frustration and potential harm to the child and the other parent. This article aims to shed light on the consequences and legal recourse available when a parent breaches a court order in the context of family law.

Understanding Court Orders in Family Law

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand what court orders entail in family law cases. Court orders typically outline the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each parent concerning matters such as child arrangements (time living with or spent with each parent) and other related issues. These orders are put in place to ensure the best interests of the child and promote stability and consistency in their lives.

Types of Court Order Breaches

A parent can breach a court order in various ways. Some common examples include:

  • Denying rights to see/spend time with a child or children- One parent refuses to allow the other parent to spend their court-ordered time with the child.
  • Relocating without permission – A parent moves away with the child without obtaining consent from the court or the other parent.
  • Disregarding the terms of a child arrangement order – One parent ignores the terms of the arrangement order established by the court.

Consequences of Breaching a Court Order

When a parent breaches a court order, several consequences may follow, including:

Contempt of court

The court may find the non-compliant parent in contempt, which can result in fines, community service, or even imprisonment.

Modification of orders

The court may decide to modify the existing court order to better protect the child’s best interests. This may include providing additional supports or intervention.

Make-up time or compensatory time with a child

The court may order the non-compliant parent to provide additional time or compensatory time to make up for the missed or denied time. The court may even consider changing the arrangements the child spends with each parent moving forwards.

Parental alienation considerations

If one parent consistently undermines the relationship between the child and the other parent, the court may take parental alienation into account when making future decisions.

Seeking Legal Remedies

If a parent finds themselves dealing with a court order breach, it’s crucial to take appropriate legal action. The following steps are always recommended in order to assist you in getting the best results.


Keep detailed records of the breaches, including dates, times, and any supporting evidence such as emails, text messages, or witnesses.


Attempt mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve the issue without escalating the conflict further.

Consultation with a solicitor

Seek legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor who can guide you through the legal process and represent your interests.

Application for enforcement

If informal resolution attempts fail, you can file an application with the court to enforce the existing court order and seek appropriate remedies.

A court order breach can have significant implications for both parents and, most importantly, the well-being of the child involved. Understanding the consequences and available legal remedies is crucial for parents who find themselves facing such situations. If you believe a parent has breached a court order, consult with a qualified family law solicitor to protect your rights and the best interests of your child.

For advice from our specialist family law team please contact one of our offices: 

South Devon   01803 213251

Exeter              01392 274006

North Devon    01271 342268

Email : [email protected] 

Family Law | Wollens Solicitors