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Understanding Contravention Applications: When someone breaches a Parenting Order

A contravention application under the Family Law Act is a legal mechanism that allows a party to seek enforcement or redress when the other party has breached a parenting order. It is a formal application made to the court, alleging that the other party has failed to comply with their obligations under a parenting order.

Here are some key points to understand about contravention applications:

  1. Breach of Parenting Order:
    A contravention application is initiated when one party alleges that the other party has contravened a parenting order. A breach occurs when a party fails to comply with the terms and conditions specified in the order.
  2. Types of Contraventions:
    A contravention may be categorized as either a “simple” or “serious” contravention, depending on the nature and severity of the breach. The classification determines the available legal remedies and the court’s approach to the contravention application.
    • Simple Contravention: A simple contravention refers to a less serious breach that does not involve a significant impact on the child’s time with a parent or the child’s safety and well-being.
    • Serious Contravention: A serious contravention involves a more substantial breach that significantly affects the child’s time with a parent or poses a risk to their safety and well-being.
  3. Initiating a Contravention Application:
    To initiate a contravention application, the party alleging the breach must file an application with the court. The application must outline the specific allegations, provide details of the contravention, and specify the orders sought for enforcement or redress.
  4. Response to a Contravention Application:
    The other party can (but is not required) to file an affidavit setting out version of events. In their affidavit they can say they had “reasonable excuse” to contravene the orders.
  5. Court Proceedings:
    Once a contravention application is filed, the court will schedule a hearing to assess the allegations and determine whether a breach has occurred and if so, whether that parent has a reasonable excuse for having breached the orders.
  6. Possible Outcomes:
    If the court finds that a contravention has occurred without reasonable excuse, it has various options for addressing the breach, including:
    • Issuing a warning or reprimand to the party responsible for the contravention.
    • Imposing additional conditions or orders to ensure compliance.
    • Ordering compensatory make-up time for the parent who missed out on their scheduled time with the child.
    • Requiring the party to attend counselling or parenting programs.
    • Imposing fines or community service orders.
    • In more serious cases, varying the existing parenting orders or even considering a change in custody arrangements.

It’s important to note that false or frivolous contravention applications can have consequences, including costs orders or potential penalties for making false allegations or filing applications with no prospects.

If you believe that a parenting order has been breached, please contact us today to obtain advice about a Contravention Application.


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