There can often be a perception by parties to Family Law child related matters that the battle has been won once the Court makes Final Orders.
Unfortunately, given the inherent complexities and high emotions present in most child related matters, this is rarely the case, and breaches of parenting Orders occur relatively frequently.
In the event a party breaches Family Court parenting Orders, what penalties are applicable?
Division 13A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) deals with the consequences of failure to comply with orders, and other obligations, that affect children and these provisions are mirrored in Division 13 of the Western Australian Family Court Act 1997 (WA). The legislation essentially breaks contraventions down into two categories – less serious and more serious.
The powers available to the Family Court in dealing with contravention of parenting orders are wide, varied and able to be tailored to the nature of the breach.
Sub-divisions 3 – 6 of Division 13A of the Act set out these powers and the applicable penalties, which differ according to the seriousness of the contravention and whether the Respondent can provide a reasonable excuse for the breach.
Possible penalties include:
- Compensating a party for time lost with their child as a result of a breach by the other party (s 70NDB);
- Ordering the other party to enter into a bond for a period of up to 2 years that may require that person to attend family counselling, family dispute resolution, or ‘be of good behavior’ (s 70NEC); and
- In circumstances of a serious breach, making community service orders (s 70NFC) or even terms of imprisonment (s 70NFG).
In the event you or the other party have contravened parenting Orders, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a Family Lawyer given the potentially serious outcomes of this breach as outlined above.
If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.