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How to Change or Enforce a Court Order

If ex-partners agree to change a court order there is a way to make it legal and binding. Find out how the court enforces an order and which forms you need to end a court order.

Change a ‘Child Arrangements’ Court Order

Parents can decide to change an existing court order (or a consent order).

Note: Both ‘ex-partners’ would need to agree to make any changes.

But, you would not always be able to enforce it if you do something that is different to the agreements stated in the court order.

You would need to make a changed court order ‘legally’ binding. This is the only way to have a court enforce it at a later date.

Making a Change Legally Binding

The first step is making sure that both of you agree to the amendment. Then, you can draft a consent order that covers any new agreements. The next step is asking the court to approve the changes you made.

The process differs when both parents and not in agreement. In this case, you must ask a court to decide how to ‘vary’ the order (change the content). They would make a decision using the different types of court orders.

Note: In most cases, you would need to attend a hearing if you ask a court to change or enforce an order. But, using mediation instead means you can often avoid this part of the process.

Enforcing a Court Order

You can ask the court to enforce an order if your ex-partner is not following the conditions laid out in the order. Follow these three steps.

  1. Download and fill in the application (Form C79).
  2. Attach a ‘warning notice’ using Form C78 if you made the order before the 8th of December 2008.
  3. Send the form(s) to a court near to where you live that deals with cases involving children and pay the court-handling fee.

Note: The court will review all the facts once more to check if anything has changed. You can also read further guidance on enforcing a child arrangements order (CB5).

If a Court Enforces the Order

There are several different ways for a court to enforce an order. It will depend on the situation and what they got asked to make a decision on. As a rule, the court will make (either):

  • An ‘enforcement order’. Issuing this would mean the ex-partner must carry out between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • An ‘order for compensation for financial loss’. Issuing this would mean the ex-partner must pay back money lost due to not following the order (e.g. paying for a missed holiday).

Note: You can take your case back to the court if your ex-partner still fails to do as the court ordered.

If a Court Does Not Enforce the Order

The court can decide not to enforce the existing order. It may happen if they think that the reason behind the ex-partner not following it, is because:

  • Doing something different is a better option in the interests of the children.
  • They have a valid reason for not following the conditions set out in the order.

Note: You can take your case back to the court if you disagree with their decision or there is a change to your situation.

How to End a Court Order

You can use the same form (C100) to apply to ‘discharge’ a court order (end it). Use this form if the order is not working or become irrelevant to you and your children.

Some court orders end at a fixed time (e.g. a ‘time-limited’ order). Following this, you would be able to make a new agreement by yourselves, unless you need help making child arrangements.

Changing or Enforcing a ‘Child Arrangements’ Court Order in the United Kingdom