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DO you consider that the provisions of ss11A-11P children act 1989 will equip the courts more effectively to deal with contact disputes in future?

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  • Essay length: 2009 words
  • Submitted: 16/04/2009
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University Degree Family Law

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Under s.8 of the Children Act 1989 the court may make a contact order requiring the resident parent to allow contact with a person specified therein. This is usually the non-resident parent. A breach of such an order constitutes contempt of court and may be sanctioned through a fine or imprisonment of the resident parent.1 Alternatively, in some cases, residence of the child may be transferred to the other parent. There has been much dissatisfaction with the previous law. There has been criticism of the use of imprisonment, branding it as a sanction which may be detrimental to the child's welfare2 and thus in conflict with the paramountcy principle. Another criticism of the sanctions is that they are hardly used and, therefore, ineffective.3

As a result the Children and Adoption Act 2006 amended the Children Act 1989 to introduce two new sanctions. Section 11J introduces the sanction of unpaid work where the court is satisfied, beyond all reasonable doubt, that a breach has occurred and that there is no 'reasonable excuse' for the breach. 4 Moreover, s11O introduces financial compensation for loss caused by the breach, such as the cost of a missed holiday.

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