Contravention of Parenting Orders

A Family Law Court can respond in several ways when a parent disobeys an order involving children. This article explains what happens when a parenting order is contravened.

What is a parenting order?

Parents who divorce or separate may need a Family Law Court to enter a parenting order. The order gives one or both parents the authority to make decisions about the child’s life. It also specifies which parent the child will live with and when the other parent will have contact with the child. Parenting orders sometimes include additional terms regarding the interaction of parents with their children.

What is a breach of a parenting order?

  • A parenting order is breached if either parent:
  • Intentionally fails to obey the order
  • Makes no reasonable attempt to comply with the order
  • Intentionally prevents the other parent from complying with the order

A reasonable attempt to comply with the order means taking all reasonable steps to follow the order. For instance, if the order provides that a child will spend weekends with his father and the child is reluctant to do so, the mother must encourage the child to go with the father.

What happens if a parenting order is breached?

Parents are required to obey parenting orders. The response to a breach of a parenting order will depend upon the nature of the breach.

If a parent fails to return a child to the other parent as the order requires and there is reason to fear that the child has been abducted, a family law registry can provide information about obtaining emergency assistance from the court.

If there is no need for urgent action, parents are required to use a dispute resolution process to try to resolve their differences. A parent can only apply to the court for assistance if dispute resolution fails.

What happens if a parent has a reasonable excuse for disobeying the order?

The court will not sanction a parent for contravening a parenting order if that parent had a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses might include:

  • A failure to understand the meaning of an ambiguous order
  • A reasonable belief that contravening the order was necessary to protect the child’s health or safety
  • Events beyond the parent’s control prevented compliance with the order

What will the court do to enforce the order?

Courts have a range of responses that they can use if a parent contravenes a parenting order. They include ordering a parent to:

  • Attend a parenting program
  • Compensate the other parent for time lost with a child
  • Pay all or some of the legal costs and reasonable expenses of the other parent that were incurred because of the contravention
  • Enter into a bond
  • Participate in community service
  • Pay a fine
  • Serve time in custody

A lawyer can help you if you need to file a contravention application with the court.



Alan Weiss

25th March, 2020

Alan Weiss developed after he experienced himself how devastating divorce proceedings can be. I witnessed firsthand my own future security, and that of my familys, being destroyed by acrimonious and costly divorce litigation. I created to help people avoid an experience like this and lose thousands of dollars. Instead the system will assist them in getting on with their lives.