Breaching Parenting Orders: Understanding The Consequences

Breaching Parenting Orders: Understanding The Consequences - Resolve Conflict Family LawyersWhen a parenting order is made by the Family Court it expects that each person affected by the order to follow those arrangements stipulated in the legal document.

Everyone involved must abide and do everything a parenting order says. This means taking all reasonable steps to follow the order. It is against the law to make it harder for other people involved to comply with the parenting order.

There can be serious consequences if you are found by the Court to be in breach of your parenting order.


What Are Parenting Orders?

A parenting order is a set of orders made by a Court about parenting arrangement for a child. Parenting orders can be made by consent if both parents agree, of by a decision of the Family Court if parents cannot agree.

A parenting order deals with things like:

  • Who the child will live with
  • How much time the child will spend with each parent and with other people, such as grandparents
  • The allocation of parental responsibility
  • How the child will communicate with a parent they do not live with, or other people
  • Any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child.

A parenting order can also stop parents from doing certain things, such as drinking alcohol while the children are with them.


Related Article: Do You Need A Parenting Plan?


Breaching Parenting Orders

It is very important that you don’t breach or disobey a parenting order. If you fail to prove that you had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for breaching the order, it is open to the other parent to make an application again you, which will be heard in Court.

Deciding if someone has breached a parenting order depends on what the order stipulates. This can be more complicated if you have made a parenting plan that changes the arrangements set out in the parenting order.

For this reason it is important to seek legal advice if you think someone has breached a parenting order, or if someone is alleging that you have breached a parenting order.


What Is A ‘Reasonable Excuse’ For Breaching A Parenting Order?

There isn’t a precise definition in the Family Law Act 1975 of what constitutes a ‘reasonable excuse’ for breaching a parenting order, however there are guidelines for what may be deemed as a ‘reasonable excuse’:

  1. The person who breached the order did not understand the obligations created by the order, OR
  2. There are reasonable grounds to suggest that breaching to order was necessary to protect either the parent, the child or both parties.


Consequences Of Breaching A Parenting Order

If the Court finds a person in breach of an order without a reasonable excuse, they have the power to:

  • Order a person to participate in a parenting program
  • Compensate the other parent for lost time with the child.

More severe penalties may apply if a parent disobeys an order multiple times or the Court believes the parenting order is being ignored. These more severe consequences include:

  • Paying for expenses incurred because of the breach
  • Paying some or all of the other person’s legal costs
  • Community work
  • Entry into a bond for up to 2 years
  • A fine
  • Jail term of up to 12 months.

If you are not sure of the details of your parenting order, are accused of breaching a parenting order or you think someone else is breaching a parenting order, you should get legal advice.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters, please contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email



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