Staying off the Family Court’s naughty list this Christmas (and for the rest of the year)

What you need to know about breaching and complying with parenting orders

Parenting orders are legally binding and carry serious legal consequences for breach. Where the Court finds that a party has breached (‘contravened’) parenting orders, they may order:

  • Payment of the other party’s legal costs
  • Attendance at a parenting course
  • Payment of a fine
  • A good behaviour bond
  • In extreme circumstances, imprisonment

The Court also has the power to vary existing parenting orders and order make-up time to compensate for any lost time as a result of the contravention. If the party has contravened parenting orders by failing to return the child, then the Court may also issue a Recovery Order.

However, a breach of parenting orders may not always amount to contravention.

Reasonable excuse

The Court may be prepared to excuse a contravention where the party in breach has a ‘reasonable excuse’ for failing to comply with the orders. While a ‘reasonable excuse’ sounds straightforward, it can be difficult to prove.

It is important to note that even if the Court accepts that there is a reasonable excuse, the Court is still able to vary parenting orders or make any other order it considers appropriate in the circumstances.

The importance of compliance

Where there are parenting orders in place, you must make reasonable attempts to comply with those orders. Even where contravention proceedings are not initiated, breaches can still be recorded and used in later proceedings.

Of course, in practise, compliance isn’t always that simple. If you would like more information in relation to breaching, varying, or complying with parenting orders, please contact Kavanagh Lawyers on 08 6557 5888 to arrange an initial appointment.