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When Parenting Orders Are Ignored

parenting orders

It’s an all too common scenario. The kids should be back by now the parenting orders said so, but they aren’t. It’s an obvious breach, or is it?

Parenting Orders

A parenting order is a court order and differs from a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an agreement by the parties made by consent. A parenting order is a binding court ordered plan that may be made with or without the consent of either party.

The breach of a parenting order can be a serious infraction. But it is important to firstly establish whether the breach was even actually a breach!


A common assumption is that any failure to comply with orders is a breach. For a breach to have occurred, it must amount to:-

  1. An intentional failure to comply with the order; or
  2. A failure to make a reasonable attempt at complying with the order; or
  3. The aiding or abetting of a person who is in contravention of the order; or
  4. Intentionally preventing a person from complying with the order.

It should also be a point of consideration that a parenting order binds the parties to it, it normally does not purport to bind the child.

If a parenting order is the subject of a subsequent parenting plan, care should also be taken to establish whether the requirement to comply stemmed from the plan or the order.

Reasonable Excuse

If a Court establishes that a party is in breach of Orders, the next step is to decide whether that person had a reasonable excuse for the breach.

Deciding whether a person had a reasonable excuse to breach Orders can be complicated and depends on the circumstances of the parties and the fact of the alleged breach.

Penalties for Breach

If a breach with no reasonable excuse is established, the court has a number of options available to it. The powers of the court extend to:

  1. Mandatory attendance of a parenting program;
  2. A further parenting order that compensates the other party for the time lost;
  3. Fines and community service;
  4. A costs order made against the party (for legal costs of bringing the application);
  5. Require the party to enter into a bond, for a period of up to 2 years that may be with or without a surety or security requirement;
  6. Imprisonment;
  7. Make further parenting orders.

Legal Advice

McNamara Law has an experienced team of family lawyers who can assist you in any family law matter that you may experience. Call 1300 574 974 to speak to us today.