Parenting Orders - What can you do if one party breaches the Order

Posted by Daniela Poletti on 19 July 2017

Having to deal with a divorce or separation when there are children involved is extremely hard. Even after you and your partner have gone your separate ways the care of your child/children still needs to be one of your main priorities. This ensures that all children involved still have visiting rights to both parents while health and welfare are also provided.

If you and your partner are not able to amicably resolve parenting arrangements after separating then the Courts will need to intervene. Once this happens the Court is required to make Orders. Once parenting Orders are made under the Family Law Act they create an obligation to each of the parents to adhere to.

Consequences follow if one of the parents does not comply with the Orders or departs from the arrangements provided under the Orders without a reasonable excuse. The penalty for failing to comply with parenting Orders can range from requiring the contravening parent to attend a post separation parenting program, requiring the parent to enter into a bond with a fine if the bond is broken, to compensating the parent who lost time with the children because of the contravention.

The Court can also order that the parent who contravened the Order pay the legal costs of the other parent who has had to come to Court to enforce the Orders. However, it is understood that children's lives are not static and the arrangements regarding children may need to change over the years because of a change in circumstances. If there is a significant change (such as one parent moving outside the metro area, neglect of the children or behaviour by one parent which impacts adversely on the children when they are in his or her care) the other parent can apply to the Court to vary the Orders accordingly.

When such situations happen, it is important to make an Application to the Court to vary the Orders and not just do nothing. If you do not make an Application to the Court it may mean that you will be on the receiving end of an Application for Contravention/enforcement in the Family Court/Federal Circuit Court.

If a parent believes that such significant changes occur which he/she believes are adversely impacting on the children, then that parent should seek legal advice and seriously consider doing one of the following:

  1. Attempt to communicate with the other parent in order to make new arrangements by arrangement, which may then be documented as Consent Orders; or

  2. Seek the assistance of alternative dispute resolution means (such as collaboration or mediation) in order to reach an agreement with the other parent about new arrangements for the children which can then be properly documented and put before the Court for new Orders to be made.

Whichever method is chosen, Selvaggio Lawyers can provide you with sound legal advice regarding the proposed changes and can also draft the new Consent Orders. If not agreement can be reached between parents then we can provide you with thorough advice regarding your prospects of success in applying to the Court to seek a variation of the Orders.

Following on from that advice, if the prospects of making an Application to vary the Order are good, we can also assist in Court proceedings whilst at all times endeavouring to agree to changes to the Orders by agreement with the other parent.

Selvaggio Lawyers can provide you with thorough advice regarding enforcement of parenting orders. We work with you to ensure the best possible outcome for your family. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.