Family Law Contraventions and Breach of Orders

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Compliance with Parenting Orders:

When Court orders are made, it is a requirement that parties follow those orders. For that reason, it is critical that you read and understand the contents of any court orders that you have.  If you are not sure what the parenting order says, it’s going to be pretty hard to obey it. Our expert family lawyers can help you to understand what is in your parenting order, how it applies to your family, and what to do when the Order is breached. If you don’t follow an Order, you can be in trouble for contravention of the Order.

Family Law Contraventions of Orders, and when a Parenting Order is breached:

If a parent does not follow an order, it is called contravening an order. Sometimes the act that is the breach of the order is referred to as a contravention. There can be valid reasons why a parent would breach an order. For example, if a parent was unable to transport a child to the changeover because of flood waters. However, if a person doesn’t have a reasonable excuse for their breach of the parenting order, the Court can find a person in contravention.

Penalties for Contravening or Breach of Orders:

Once the Court has made a finding that a person has contravened a parenting order, there are a number of options open to the Court. It is possible for the Court to order people to attend at programs, facilitate make up time, enter a bond, pay a fine, or even 12 months imprisonment. So the Court has the option to make orders that:

  1. fix” or “make up” for the contravention (for example, make up time);
  2. Order a penalty like a fine or imprisonment; and/or
  3. vary or change the parts of the parenting orders that were contravened.

We understand how hard it can be when one person consistently breaches the Court Order. We can help. If you are thinking about applying to the Court to deal with a parent not following the Order, we recommend you speak to a lawyer first. It’s also important to decide early 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.

You may also be required to try to resolve the problem by family dispute resolution first. To check this, you can look at section 60I here or the family court website.

If you are wanting to enforce a parenting order, we can explain your options, help you to choose the best strategy, and if necessary, represent you at Court. If you are responding to an application for contravention, it’s important you get advice from a lawyer as soon as possible. Although a contravention of a parenting order is governed by the Family Law Act, it is a quasi-criminal area, and penalties can include imprisonment.

You can get more information about compliance with parenting orders from the Family Court website.