A court may decide that the best remedy is not a contravention order, but an order that changes (or “varies”) the terms of the parenting order. If a parent was not following the parenting order because its terms were ambiguous, the order might be amended to make its requirements clear.
If a parent could not follow the order because circumstances changed (for example, the parent began working a night shift and cannot pick up or return the children at times specified in the parenting order), the court might vary the order to make it possible for the parent to comply with it.
A common breach is the failure to make a child available to a parent who is entitled to spend time with the child. When that happens, the court might order that the parent who was deprived of time with the child is entitled to spend additional time with the child to make up for the lost time.
If the court feels that a parent breached the parenting order because the parent did not understand the importance of acting as a responsible parent, the court might require the parent to attend a post-separation parenting program. Approved programs are run by counselling services.
The goal of a parenting program is to teach appropriate behaviour as a single parent, including focusing on the needs of the children and resolving conflicts with the other parent in a way that does not harm the children. Requiring attendance at a parenting program is a relatively common remedy for the first breach of a parenting order.
If a parent convinces the court that the other parent unreasonably breached the parenting order, the court can order the breaching parent to pay the legal fees and expenses of the parent who applied for the contravention order. On the other hand, if the court finds that the parent who applied for the contravention order did not act in good faith, it can order that parent to pay the fees and expenses incurred to defend against the application.
The court can also order reimbursement of a parent who was harmed economically by the contravention. For example, if a parent books a weekend vacation and cannot travel because the other parent does not pick up the child as scheduled, the court can order the breaching parent to reimburse the other parent for nonrefundable airfare or a lost room deposit.
The court can require a breaching parent to enter into a bond. The conditions of the bond may remain in effect for up to two years.
As a remedy for severe or repeated breaches of a parenting order, the court might punish the disobedient parent. Possible punishments include:
Punishments are usually the last resort that courts impose only if other remedies have been tried and failed.