What Happens If One Party Breaches Parenting Orders?

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What Happens If One Party Breaches Parenting Orders?

6 December 2021
 Categories: Law, Blog

When a family court gives parenting orders, the adults involved are expected to follow them exactly. Yet, there is no monitoring or observation involved, and should something go wrong, it is up to one of the individuals to bring it to the attention of the court. What happens in this situation, and what do you need to be aware of before you take action?

Understanding Orders

In an ideal world, both parents will fully understand and embrace their obligations and do everything they can to look after their children. Yet, there are often disagreements, and this is why a court may need to make a formal parenting order. They may need to insist that one party looks after a child for a specific amount of time or contribute financially to the cost.

Sometimes, circumstances beyond the control of an individual can come into play. At other times, one of the parents may decide that they simply do not want to adhere to the orders any longer.

Dispute Resolution

Much will depend on the circumstances involved, which will dictate whether a court will hear your case. In most situations, both parties will need to go in front of a family dispute resolution officer first to see if they can fix the outstanding issue, whatever it may be.

Family Violence

Sometimes resolution is not appropriate, as may be the case if family violence is involved. If there is a risk of child abuse or other circumstances that make the situation very urgent, a court may hear the case immediately.

Reasonable or Unreasonable

If you have been unable to reach an agreement with the resolution officer, you will need to put forward a standard of proof. You must be able to prove your case on the balance of probabilities. The court will also want to know if the other party had taken all reasonable steps possible to comply with the order. If circumstances have made it impossible to do so, they may be able to change the order accordingly. Nevertheless, a court will only accept a reasonable excuse, and this will typically be narrowly defined.

Proving the Case

You will need to be sure of your ground before you proceed. If not, there is a risk that the court will say that you did not adequately prove an alleged infringement. If the other party did not have a reasonable excuse for contravening, they may be penalised. A judge may expect them to pay a fine and costs (potentially including yours) or may require them to do community service. In the worst case, they may even hand down a prison sentence.

Presenting Your Position

Before you proceed, make sure that you have all the necessary information and have gathered all your facts. The case will need to be strong and well presented, so you should always bring in a family lawyer to help you. Contact a family lawyer to learn more.