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Family courts get new powers to settle contact disputes

Judges in family courts have been given more powers to resolve contact disputes between estranged parents.

It means that parents who fail to honour their commitments and responsibilities could be obliged to attend parenting classes or even undertake unpaid community work.

The new measures are contained in the Children and Adoption Act 2006 and became effective on 8th December 2008. They’re intended to help resolve conflicts between parents over such things as who the child should see, how often and under what conditions.

A family court now has the power to direct a parent to undertake a contact activity, and it can attach an activity condition such as attending parenting classes to contact orders.

If one of the parents suffers financially from the other’s failure to comply with a contact order then the court will be able to award compensation. The court will also be able to impose an unpaid work requirement on the person who breaches the contact order.

The Government says the background to the changes is the principle that the "well-being and interests of the child are of paramount importance" rather than the personal interests of either parent.

We are happy to offer advice on the new measures or any aspect of family law.

If you wish to make an appointment, or ask us a question please contact us.