What do I do when there is a breach of my family law parenting orders? Firstly, if you believe the parenting orders are being breached you should contact the other parent to discuss a mutual solution. If possible, have a record of the communication, for example via email.
Is there an excuse?
Where a parent fails to comply with parenting orders the Court can find that they may have a reasonable excuse. This will depend on the circumstances. A reasonable excuse may be to protect a child from abuse, exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse by a parent or to protect the health or safety of the child.
Trivial in Nature
Even where there has been a breach of the Court Orders, that breach may be so trivial that the Court does not take any action for the non-compliance. For example, a trivial breach may be that the phone contact between the child and parent occurred 20 minutes late on several occasions. Contrast this however, to a situation where there is Court ordered phone contact but there has been none, despite the other parent’s attempts to do so for a long period of time.
What should I do?
Before filing a Court Application parents are encouraged to attend mediation. In most parenting case mediation is a requirement before going to Court, unless your Court Orders were made within the last 12 months.
If parties reach a resolution at mediation the existing parenting orders can be amended by consent. Alternatively, if parents are unable to resolve the issues they will be issued with a section 60I certificate.
The last step, if all other options have been exhausted, would be to file a Contravention Application in Court. The Court may vary existing orders, for example to allow for “make-up time” and may penalise the party in breach.
Whether or not you should take any action against a non-compliant parent will depend on the circumstances, it is also beneficial to obtain legal advice from a Family Lawyer to understand what course of action you should take.
If you believe your existing parenting orders are being breached or need advice about your parenting arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact the DBL Family Law Team for advice.