Even if parents go through the lengthy and expensive process of
obtaining Orders in relation to their children, it is a sad reality
that one, or both, won't comply with them. Aside from causing
angst and uncertainty, it can lead to significant difficulties
Although attending Court should always be viewed as the last
resort, often a parent may need to bring a Contravention
Application before the Court. As it sounds, a Contravention
Application is an application to the Court indicating that the
other party isn't complying with an Order, and seeks Orders to
address it. They can be used to impress upon the contravening party
that the Orders must be obeyed, and to make necessary adjustments
to the Orders to remove difficulties preventing them from being
The Orders that can be requested from a Court depend on the
seriousness of the contravention, or if contraventions have
happened previously. In general terms, the powers of the Court can
Ordering make up time
directing that Orders be changed
requiring attendance at post-separation parenting courses
placing people on bonds
ordering community service and in the most serious cases,
The last of those powers is generally reserved for people who
flagrantly and consistently breach Orders or run away with
A party can argue against a Contravention Application by
producing a reasonable excuse for the breach. One example is when a
child is not made available to spend time with the other party and
the defending party indicates it was because the child was unwell.
A medical certificate produced to the Court confirming the illness
will generally amount to a reasonable excuse. Another example is if
a child will be placed in a dangerous situation if time with the
other parent is allowed, and the party takes steps to protect the
child from harm (in particular, the risk of family violence or
Even if a Court finds that there is a reasonable excuse, it can
still make an order compensating a person for time lost, but does
not have power to make another order.
It is my view that sometimes a Contravention Application is
brought for matters that aren't serious enough to warrant the
Court interfering with those Orders. Furthermore, a Contravention
Application sometimes papers over a more fundamental difficulty
with the Orders – in which case, an Application should be
brought to change the Orders rather than seeking to punish the
person not complying with it.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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