The remaining provisions of the Children & Adoption Act 2006 (Part I) finally come into force tomorrow (8 December 2008). They amend the Children Act 1989 to enable the court to make contact activity directions and conditions and to enforce breach of a contact order by way of and enforcement order which imposes an unpaid work requirement (community service) or by compensation order (where the breach has caused a financial loss such as a missed holiday). Contact activities will include things like parenting classes and domestic violence prevention programmes.
Because the idea is that the court will exhaust all other avenues prior to making an enforcement order, which will usually include trying contact activities first, it seems unlikely that many enforcement orders will be made over the next few months, particularly since it is unclear what contact activities will be available nationally or locally.
It remains to be seen how much these new powers enhance the ability of the court to progress contact within a sensible timeframe in those ‘stuck’ cases, and realistically it is unlikely to become clear for some considerable time. It is possible that the provisions will, whilst giving the court a broader range of powers, do little to speed things up in the implacable cases that we hear so much about.