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Breaching Court Orders is serious and can lead to consequences.
When I was in Coffs Harbour for a family get together, I read an interesting article in the Coffs Coast Advocate newspaper titled Breaching family law order serious written by Michael Adndorff.
The article was particularly interesting to me because in my own practice I have had several matters involving breaches of family law Orders, either with my client responsible for the breach, or the other party.
It is important for parties involved in matters in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts to appreciate that they must follow Orders that have been made by the Courts.
I had a matter before Judge Neville earlier this year in which we had filed a Contravention Application when the other party had, without reasonable excuse, continually and deliberately breached orders which provided that the parties child spend time with my client.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 there are a number of penalties available to punish the person who is found to have contravened Orders. These include fines, placement of the people on good behaviour bonds and in the most serious of cases, imprisonment. The Court can also make Orders for ‘make up time’ for the person who has missed time they should have spent with children under the Orders. The Court can also make entirely new Orders which provide for different arrangements, some of which may provide greater surety that the Orders will be abided by, for example, longer block periods of time with the non-resident parent and changeovers at school or day care. Courts may even order that the child change residence to live with the other parent as in some matters, that is the only way that the Court can be satisfied that the child will ever have a meaningful relationship with such parent.
In my matter, the breaching parent was warned about her placement on a bond in future breaches were to occur without reasonable excuse and new Orders were made providing for my client to have make up time with the child and for his time with the child to be increased.
In other cases, there are acceptable reasons behind a parties’ breach of Orders, such as, the child being at risk in the other parties’ care. If you are involved in such a matter, you should seek advice as to whether you should seek for the Orders to be changed prior to breaching them, rather than waiting for the other person to bring contravention proceedings against you.
The article in the Coffs Coast Advocate discusses a matter in which the Family Court ruled in favour of a mother who had breached orders by not allowing the father to spend time with their child.
In criminal proceedings, the mother had given evidence that the father had threatened to kill her and their child. The father ended up pleading guilty to the domestic violence related charges. He did not challenge the mother’s evidence.
The mother’s evidence in the Family Court was that she felt the only way she could protect herself and her chid was to stop contact with the father.
On appeal, the appeal court found that the mother’s fears were based on reasonable grounds.
If you are breaching Court Orders or considering doing so, or the other party in your matter is, make an appointment to talk to one of our family lawyers and obtain advice about your options.
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