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Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss Says Courts Must Take Action On Parents Who Ignore Orders For Child Contact

There is no reason why she shouldn't be required to go and clean the streets, whatever it may be"


Former president of the Family Division, Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, has called for family courts to enforce orders they have made for contact between children and their non-resident parent.


In an exclusive interview with Families Need Fathers on the impact of the new Children and Families Act, Lady Butler-Sloss calls for a greater emphasis on the obligations of resident parents to follow court orders.

Lady Butler-Sloss stated, “I can see absolutely no reason why she shouldn’t do community service. I should like to see her penalised in all sorts of inconvenient ways as long as it doesn’t have any impact on her care of the child. So as long as the child is over 5 or goes to a child minder, then there is no reason why she shouldn’t be required to go and clean the streets, whatever it may be. I would make her do something really unpleasant so that she understands the consequences of this.”


The interview is contained in a briefing on the new Act for members of Families Need Fathers.


Lady Butler-Sloss explains the reasons behind her amendment of Section 11 of the Children and Families Act to give wide scope for interpreting the meaning of ‘parental involvement’. She says, contrary to criticism directed at her, this was not intended to undermine the Act.


She commented, “I think Section 11 will set that out [the obligations of both parents to act in the best interests of their children] more obviously, and correctly. I entirely accept the advantage of making sure in public policy that both parents matter.”


Jerry Karlin, Chair of Families Need Fathers, commented, “I am pleased that Lady Butler-Sloss emphasises the importance of ensuring orders are properly enforced in the family justice system. Far too many of our members find that they are still unable to see their children even once an order providing for contact is in place.


A court only makes an order for contact where this is in the child’s best interests, so breaches of orders sadly hurt children and parents alike. I support Lady Butler-Sloss’ call for greater use of enforcement measures that do not impact upon the ability of either parent to care for the child, and hope that this important subject will receive greater attention as part of the wider programme of family law reform.”


A copy of the Briefing can be downloaded here.




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