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Enforcement of access and custody orders

Section 18A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 (inserted by section 60 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015) provides a new civil remedy of an “enforcement order”, available where a parent or guardian has been granted access or custody to a child and has been unreasonably denied such access or custody.  Legal aid is available to take proceedings for an enforcement order subject to the normal rules.

It should be noted that the criminal offence created by section 5 of the Courts Act (No. 2) 1986 of non compliance with a District Court custody or access order remains on the statute book. Legal aid is not available to prosecute this offence, This can be sometimes confusing for applicants as these proceedings may be heard at sittings of the District Court for family law matters. However, if a person presents seeking legal aid to prosecute this offence the application may be accepted on the basis that the solicitor will advise the applicant on other remedies (such as an enforcement order under the 1964 Act as amended) that may be available.