19 Apr 2017

What happens if someone breaches Family Court Orders?

Breaching an Order, whether it is in relation to parenting or financial matters, made by the Family Court of Western Australia (“the Court”) can have serious repercussions. There are penalties for disobeying such orders and the Court is able to make a wide range of interim and final Orders as a consequence of a breach.

What happens if I breach a parenting order?

If you breach a parenting Order, the other party can make an application for enforcement or start contravention proceedings against you.

  • Enforcement is when the Court can make an Order that the person applying for the enforcement is compensated, for example, by way of ‘make-up time’ with the child.
  • Contravention: is when the Court can punish you unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for breaching the parenting Order. The court will only consider that you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ if for example, you believed you had to breach the parenting Order to protect the child or you did not understand that you were breaching the parenting Order at the time.

An example of breaching parenting Orders is where there is a Court Order in place that a Father has time with the children of the relationship however; the Mother fails to handover the children for time with the Father pursuant to the Court Orders. The Court is able to make orders (as above) to address such breaches.

If you breach a parenting Order more than once, or the Court thinks that you are simply ignoring the parenting Order, the Court can also make you:

  • Pay any expenses that the other parent has had to meet because you breached the parenting order (e.g. travel costs) 
  • Pay some or all of the other parent’s legal costs
  • Do community service work 
  • Be put on a bond
  • Pay a fine, or
  • Go to jail.

What happens if I breach financial orders? 

There are many kinds of financial Orders which the Court can make these can include Orders for a person to pay money to another person by a certain time, Orders to transfer or sell property or Orders to sign documents.

Once these Orders are made, each person bound by the Order must follow it. If a person fails to obey the Orders, the options available to the parties are to attempt to resolve the issue through attending dispute resolution or making an application to the Court for an enforcement Order.

An example of a breach of a financial Order is where a Court has ordered that parties in property settlement proceedings must not sell or dispose of any assets of a specified minimum value before property settlement is finalised and one party intentionally or recklessly disobeys that order by selling that asset.

If you or the other parent have breached a parenting or financial Order you should seek advice from a specialist Family Lawyer.

This is general information 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 our offices on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

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