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Contraventions of court orders is not cut and dry, at first glance.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to get appropriate legal advice.

When getting legal advice, it does not matter if you are the Applicant or Respondent, it is important to tell the lawyer all the circumstances leading up to and including the contravention, and your beliefs at the time it occurred.

Contraventions – what are they?

A Contravention is when one parent does not comply with the obligations that have been imposed on them by way of a court order.

It is important to understand that orders impose either positive or negative obligations on parents – a positive obligation means you must do something, and a negative obligation means you must not do something.

Some examples of a contravention, assuming there is no reasonable excuse, in relation to a parenting matter include:

  1. Parent A contravenes the order when they do not drop the Child off at Parent B’s house and the Child doesn’t spend time with Parent B as a result.
  2. Whilst with Parent A, the Child went to hospital for a medical emergency. Parent A has contravened the orders by failing to inform Parent B of the Child’s medical emergency.
  3. The Child lives with Parent B who organises a telehealth appointment for the Child after school. Parent B contravenes the order by not informing Parent A and getting their consent.

If you don’t comply with an order deliberately but believe you have good reason for it, then you might be able to convince a court you have a ‘reasonable excuse’.

What is a ‘reasonable excuse’?

It might be that:

  1. you did not understand your obligations under the order at the time you are alleged to have breached it;
  2. you believed on reasonable grounds that you had to breach the order to protect the health and safety of you and or your child.

Consequences of a Contravention 

Finding a breach has occurred (and that there is no reasonable excuse) can result in a range of penalties and sanctions. If a breach is ‘less serious’, then the breaching party may be ordered to attend a parenting orders course, for example. For ‘more serious’ breaches then fines and jail time are possible. The court will always take the circumstances of the case into account and whether this is a first-time breach or something that has happened before.

Financial Orders

You can file a Contraventions Application for financial matters but it is not necessarily the first thing you would do.   Depending on the circumstances, you would be looking at an Enforcement Application or even contempt of court.