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Child Arrangement Orders

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 25 April 2017

19. What steps the Government are taking to ensure effective enforcement of child arrangement orders. (909813)

The family court has powers to address a breach if someone has been wilfully obstructive. When a child’s welfare requires it, the court can transfer the child’s residence to the other party. This Government are keen that there should be effective action, and a Green Paper on family justice has already been announced.

Unfortunately, enforcement is a serious problem in the courts because of the criminal threshold and a lack of an effective penalty. In some of the worst cases, the non-resident parent—usually but not always the father—can be cut out of the child’s life. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this issue needs to be addressed if we are to see equity in the family justice system?

It is right that there should be a clear system to establish the facts about a breach, and it should then be possible to deal with the breach effectively. Of course I am unable to make any announcement today but, as I have indicated to my hon. Friend, a Green Paper on family justice has been announced for later in the year, and she and I have already had the opportunity to discuss some of her ideas.