Contravention Orders: Parenting – Family law firms in Australia


If a parent does not comply with a Parenting Order, it is said that the parent has contravened the Parenting Order.

This includes failing to comply or taking an action to prevent the other parent from spending time with their children in accordance with the Parenting Order.

The Court considers several factors when determining whether the Parenting Orders have been contravened.

If you believe that the other parent is repeatedly failing to comply with your agreement, our Family Law firms in Australia can help advise you before you file an application to determine that the criteria for a Contravention Order are met in your case.

As the best Family Law firm in Australia, we advocate for a mediation-first approach where we can try and find a resolution outside of court. This reduces stress and financial strain and can improve the relationship with the other parent.

If this is not an option or is unsuccessful, Advocate Family Lawyers can document your attempts at resolution, and these can be used with your application as proof of the contraventions.

Did you know?

There are two ways that parenting agreements can be documented according to Family Law:

  1. Parenting Plans: A written agreement that is signed and dated by both parties. It is not binding or enforceable but is taken into consideration by the court in any future disputes.
  2. Parenting Order: These are made by the Court when filed by one parent or where an agreement cannot be reached out of court. These are binding and enforceable by law.

When a Parenting Order is not complied with, that parent has contravened the parenting order and further legal action may be taken.

Is it serious if I breach a Contravention Order in Parenting Matters?

If the Federal Circuit and Family Court makes an order, either by consent of the parties or by determination of a judicial officer, it is legally enforceable and must be obeyed. Each person affected by each order must comply with the order and take all reasonable steps to do so.

What is a contravention of parenting orders?

A “contravention” is commonly known as a “breach”. Contravention of a parenting order occurs when:

  1. A person bound by an order, intentionally fails to comply with the order;
  2. A person bound by an order makes no reasonable attempt to comply with the order;
  3. A person intentionally prevents compliance with an order by a person who is bound by it; or
  4. A person aids or abets a contravention of an order by a person who is bound by it.

But “My Child Does Not Want To Go” – is that a reasonable excuse?

A child’s unwillingness to spend time with the other parent unlikely to satisfy the legislative requirements for a reasonable excuse. To meet the threshold, the parent must have reasonably believed that preventing the child’s contact with the other parent was necessary to protect their health and safety. Failing that, both parties have a positive obligation to facilitate a child’s contact with the other parent if there are orders in place for such an arrangement.

When can someone get away with a contravention?

If contravention of a parenting order has been established, the only legitimate defence is a “reasonable excuse”. Circumstances that give rise to a reasonable excuse include where:

  1. The person bound by the order did not understand the obligations imposed by the order;
  2. The person reasonably believed that their actions constituting the contravention were necessary to protect the health and safety of a person – and the contravention did not last longer than was necessary.

Please note that the Federal Circuit and Family Court have a wide discretion to determine a reasonable excuse and its decision is entirely dependent on the facts of the particular case.

Not sure where to start?

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