What happens if a parenting order is breached?
If a person breaches the conditions of a parenting order, the Family Court has a number of ways it can enforce the order.
The parties are firstly encouraged to try to resolve the matter themselves, sometimes with the help of lawyers, including lawyer for the child.
If they can't resolve things, the court can make a range of orders to deal with the breach. The court must consider whether the action it takes will be in the welfare and best interests of the child and must only make an order as a last resort. The types of things the court may do are:
- Give a formal reprimand or telling off to the person breaching the parenting order.
- Change or cancel the parenting order, for example, by reducing the amount of time the person breaching the order spends with the child.
- Require the person breaching the order to pay a bond, which they may lose if they continue to breach the order.
- Require the person breaching the order to pay compensation to the other party for any reasonable costs they incurred as a result of the breach. For example, the court may decide that it is reasonable to reimburse a person for childcare costs incurred during the time period when the person breaching the order was supposed to be caring for the children, or for court costs incurred.
- Issue a warrant enforcing the day-to-day care or contact arrangements provided for in the parenting order. This can involve the Police or a social worker removing the children from the person breaching the order and delivering them to the other party.
Criminal penalties for breaching a parenting order
It is a criminal offence to intentionally breach a parenting order without a reasonable excuse. A person who does this can be jailed for up to three months, or fined up to $2,500.