Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

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Breach of Contact – A Wicked Crime

In many cases, the making of a contact order is not the end of the ordeal but the extension of it. Months, sometimes years, of litigation result in a contact order which is simply ignored by the custodial parent, or at best honoured only in the breach. Although, breach of a contact order, is not a criminal offence, persistent and deliberate breaches can be punished by a fine, a community order or a prison sentence. The Courts however are reluctant to impose sanctions in any but the worst cases. This leaves thousands of parents (usually fathers) with contact orders which amount to nothing more than a useless piece of paper. The advice to ‘try and sort things out amicably’ is a bit like pouring water into the sand, as almost invariably the soft approach has completely and utterly failed, leaving only the options of the hard or harder approach. In turn, trying to enforce a contact order is a lengthy, psychologically challenging and expensive business, beyond the financial and emotional resources of many. It is in these circumstances that a suggestion to criminalise persistent and deliberate breaches of contact orders might be viewed sympathetically, if not enthusiastically. Familial relations break down for all sorts of reasons, many of them having nothing to do with ‘fault’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘blame.’ It is however human nature for parents to react to family conflict by reference to these terms, without fully considering the welfare of the children. It sometimes takes a cold dose of reality to focus our minds to do the right thing, especially if there is no stigma or consequences attached to not doing the right thing. Perhaps the suggestion that breach of a contact order should be a criminal offence isn’t such a bad one after all.


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