HC Deb 14 December 1999 vol 341 c125W
Mr. Keetch

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will review the procedures for the enforcement of court orders relating to access by non-resident parents to their children; and if he will make a statement. [102242]

Jane Kennedy

We have no current plans to review the law in this area. The courts have their usual powers in relation to the enforcement of contact orders, including the powers to fine or imprison those who wilfully disobey or obstruct an order. However, in considering whether to use these powers in child contact cases, the courts rightly regard the best interests of the children as being their paramount concern. Consequently the courts are unlikely to fine or imprison a parent with whom a child is resident, for breaching a contact order, if they conclude that to do so would adversely affect the child concerned. Another possibility in cases where contact is denied would be for the non-resident parent to apply to the court for the residence of the child to be changed, but, again, the court would rightly regard the interests of the child as its paramount concern in determining such an application.