Parties to a family law case are required to comply with a court’s order. The breach of a court order may be punished. Parties may also have the existing order varied to assist compliance.
Court orders have the force of law. Parties are required to obey court orders or else suffer the consequences for the breach. For the contravention of a court’s order the punishment may be in the form of imprisonment, fine or community service. However, there are other remedies available to a party who has suffered damages because of the violation.
An application for contravention of court order is available with the court for a party who wants to enforce a court order or punish the person who committed the breach. The orders violated must be stated in the application so that the court can determine the appropriate measures to take against the violation. Possible orders that the court will issue in response to the contravention are the following:
The applicant’s affidavit and a copy of the order that was violated must be attached to the application. The application along with its attachments must be served on the respondent by special service. The respondent may choose to reply to the application.
Instead of having the breach punished with imprisonment or fine it is more practical to apply to the court for a variation of the order. It is especially difficult to force compliance when the other party is no longer capable to fully comply with his responsibilities. There are supervening events that sometimes cannot be avoided such as unemployment, illnesses, remarriage and relocation.
It is altogether a different story if the refusal is deliberate and wilful for which the breach should be punished. Applying for a variation recognizes the fact that events and people change and it is better to cope and accommodate these changes rather than exact punishment.
Parties are not prevented from entering into a private agreement considering that the law encourages parties to avoid courts. In family law cases, parties go through mediation and conciliation processes that will facilitate for a peaceful way of resolving a dispute. Rather than going to court immediately for the breach it may be possible for the parties to enter into an agreement that could help both parties fulfil their duties and responsibilities. This is a cheaper and faster way of addressing the difficulty of the party to comply with an existing order.