Punishment for non-compliance with court orders

When a there is a dispute between parents, often the court will serve an order to ensure the welfare and financial stability of both parties and the child. This is legally binding for both parties. In family law cases, there are two types of court orders that can be served. The first being a Parenting Order. This concerns the child’s custody arrangements as well as communication with parents and travel plans. A Financial Order is in regard to spousal and child support, as well as property and asset settlement. Non-compliance or a breach of a family court order is a serious offence and carries significant penalties. This can look like not allowing your child to see their other parent or refusing to pay child support, either intentionally not complying, making no effort to comply, or forbidding another party to comply.

If you are found to be breaching a family court order, the court may:

  • Vary the primary order
  • Order you to attend a program to help with separation
  • Require a bond
  • Require you to pay part of or all of the other parties’ legal costs
  • Require participation in community service
  • Order a fine to be paid
  • Compensate the other party for time lost
  • Sentence you to imprisonment

in accordance with Division 13A of Part VII in the Family Law Act 1975. As well as this, the court may revisit the terms of the Parenting Order and the division of custody and child support.

However, there is the possibility of there not being any legal ramifications if there is a reasonable excuse for non-compliance with a court order. The excuses being; reasonable belief that a breach will protect or maintain the welfare of the child/person involved, a misunderstanding or lack of understanding regarding the court order or, the breach of order did not exceed that time that was necessary to protect the child or person.

If you have suffered from another party breaching a Parenting or Financial court order you have to file a Contravention Application containing an Affidavit, a valid Section 60I Certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and what orders have been contravened. It is also important to collect any emails, texts, or other evidence that proves the non-compliance with the court order.

If you have any questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our offices on 02 8999 9837

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