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It is often a sad reality that though you and your former partner may go through the lengthy and emotionally turbulent process of creating a parenting plan, it is not binding upon either party. If parties then go through the costly process of obtaining Court Orders in relation to their parenting arrangement, there is a further chance that one or both parties won’t comply.

For a parent who is having issues with having their former partner comply with the Orders, either by preventing time with the child or avoiding time with the child, a Contravention Application can be brought before the Court. It is important to know that a Contravention Application should always be viewed as a last resort, given the delays currently in the Court systems. It is best to attempt to mediate between the parties, either by themselves or with the assistance of a lawyer.

In order to obtain a Contravention Order, the Court must be satisfied that a person has contravened the Family Law Act 1975 by:

  • Intentionally failing to comply with the Order; or
  • Making no reasonable attempt to comply with the Order; or
  • Intentionally preventing compliance with the Order by a person who is bound to it; or
  • Aiding or abetting contravention of the Order.

If the Court finds that a contravention has occurred, it can order:

  • That make up time with the child be arranged;
  • Direct that the Orders previously made are changed;
  • Requiring the relevant party to attend parenting courses;
  • In extreme cases, ordering community service or imprisonment.

In short, it is not appropriate to contravene Court Orders simply because you disagree with them. It is also highly unlikely that your custody advice lawyer would encourage a party to contravene Court Orders. Though there are times that a reasonable excuse can be found to prevent compliance with an Order, these must be addressed to the other party or their legal representatives as soon as they are known. These can include the child being unwell and make up time is organised between the parties, or transport has broken down and the child cannot be transported any other way.

Our specialist family law team has extensive parenting knowledge that can assist and advise in the area of custody law. Our Accredited Family Law Specialists are able to look at the best outcome for you and give you advice as to your legal rights and entitlements.

Click here for more information on parenting and custody disputes.

For advice about child custody rights contact us on 1800 300 170 or email us at
Family law situations can be complex and sometimes they can involve serious issues.  Information outlined is proposed to provide general guidance only. Due to the seriousness of legal matters as well as the uniqueness of your individual situation, professional advice should be sought. For advice, please contact one of our Family Lawyers.