Non-Compliance with a child arrangement order led to imprisonment for 28 days for a mother in contempt of court.

The case of Raza v Gall [2023] led to a mother being imprisoned for 28 days after she was found to be in contempt of court for continually not complying with court orders.

The proceedings arise due to the Father putting in an application for a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with his child.

The Mother’s non-compliance with the Court orders included:

(a) First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment – the Mother did not attend the hearing and the court made an interim order for the Father to have 2 hours a week contact and a Cafcass s7 report was ordered.

(b) There was a hearing for a Prohibited Steps Order – the Mother again did not attend the hearing and the Prohibited Steps Order was granted.

(c) Dispute Resolution Appointment – Again the Mother did not show at the hearing.

(d) Adjourned DRA – This is the first hearing that the Mother attends. It was ordered that the Father would have contact on alternate Saturdays 2-4pm. The Mother informed the court that she will not take the child to contact. A penal notice was attached to the order and the Mother was warned about the consequences of breaching a court order.

(e) there were a further 2 hearings that the mother did not attend.

(f) The judge at the next hearing issues a warrant for her arrest. The Mother was arrested and released on bail on the condition that she attended the next hearing on 16 June 2023.

(g) The Mother continued to frustrate the court proceedings, by refusing to attend the initial contact session so that interim contact could not take place.

The guardian for the child contacted the court to inform them that the Mother had not attended the meeting with the contact centre. The guardian was ordered by the judge to make a N601 application and to file a witness statement regarding all of the above breaches.

The hearing took place regarding all of the Mother’s breaches. The Judge was satisfied on the basis of the written evidence and Guardian’s limited oral evidence, that the Mother was in breach of the Order dated 21 July 2023 and has committed contempt of Court.

The Judge comes to the conclusion that the appropriate sentence is 28 days imprisonment.

The sentence of 28 days was suspended provided that the Mother attended the next contact centre meeting so that interim contact could commence. If she did not attend, she would be imprisoned for 14 days.

The above matter demonstrates how seriously Child Arrangement proceedings need to be taken. If you have been served with a sealed application and a court order, you need to ensure that you take the appropriate steps. It so important to get the right legal advice to ensure that you comply with orders or if the other party frustrates orders then the necessary process is followed to guarantee compliance or sanctions.

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