There is nothing more frustrating than obtaining Court Orders about parenting arrangements, only to have the other parent ignore or disobey the Orders.
We are often asked by clients in those situations, “Is there anything I can do about the other parent’s breach of the Order?”
In short, the answer is yes.
Complying with Parenting Orders
When Court Orders are made the parties are required by law to follow them. This means parents have to be proactive and take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Order is put into effect. You must also positively encourage your children to comply with the Orders.
If a parent does not comply with Orders, they have contravened the Orders, and penalties may apply.
Sometimes a contravention is unintentional and occurs because one party does not fully understand what the Orders say. It is critical that if you are a party to parenting Orders that you read and understand the contents of the Orders.
On other occasions there may be valid reasons why a parent might contravene an Order. For example, a parent was unable to transport a child to the changeover location because of flood waters.
However, if a person doesn’t have a reasonable excuse, and the breach is persistent or serious, you can make an Application to the Court.
Penalties for Contravening Parenting Orders:
If your Application is successful and the Court makes a finding that the other parent has contravened the Parenting Orders without reasonable excuse, there are a number of things the Court can do. Depending on the situation and the type and seriousness of the contravention, a Court may order that –
- the original Order be varied
- one or both parents to attend a post separation parenting program
- compensation be provided for time lost with a child, for example by ordering that you have “make up time” with the child
- the contravening parent enter into a bond
- the contravening parent pay some or all of your legal costs
- the contravening parent pay compensation for your reasonable expenses lost as a result of their contravention
- the contravening parent participate in community service
- the contravening parent must pay a fine, or
- the contravening parent must serve a jail sentence.
We can help. If you are thinking about applying to the Court to deal with a parent not following the Orders, we recommend you speak to a lawyer first. It’s also important to decide early-on what you want to achieve. If you want to have the existing Orders changed, a contravention application is not your only option, and depending on what you want to have changed, may not be the best strategy.
If you want the other parent to just “stick to the Orders”, please make an appointment to see one of our Family Law Team. We can explain your options, help you to choose the best strategy, and if necessary represent you at Court.
If the other parent has made an Application for Contravention and named you as the Respondent, it is important to get advice from a lawyer as soon as possible.
You can get more information about compliance with parenting orders from the Family Court website.