Things To Think About Before Commencing A Contravention Application

Things To Think About Before Commencing A Contravention Application

We are often asked, “what can I do if the other parent won’t comply with parenting orders?”.

The most common method of enforcing these orders is a contravention application.

‘Contravention’ – A Contravention application is brought when a person bound by a parenting order under the Family Law Act intentionally fails to comply with that order or makes no reasonable attempt to comply with that order.

There are a variety of remedies at the courts disposal at the hearing of a contravention application. One is to vary the orders to make them work better. The court can vary orders even if the contravention is not proven. The court can increase or decrease a parent’s time with the child, or change the pickup and drop off venue, and give a parent sole parental responsibility for some or all decisions.

Even if you successfully prove the other parent contravened the order, the orders may be varied in ways you don’t like.

Other remedies include orders for costs, compensation for lost time or out-of-pocket expenses, bonds, fines, community service, and even imprisonment in the most serious of cases.

Some questions to ask yourself before commencing a contravention application are these: –

  1. Will it improve the situation for my children?
  2. Is it for their benefit or my own?
  3. Is it commercially sensible to bring the contravention application because even if you are successful, you may not recover all your costs?
  4. Will the court regard the act of contravention as too trivial? (eg. a single missed telephone call)
  5. Will the court regard your application as overkill? I recall one man saved up 13 contraventions and brought the application many months after the events complained of. Is it better, therefore, (ie. More impactful) to act more swiftly with the more egregious of the breaches and win those?
  6. Can you actually prove the other parent intentionally failed to comply with the order or made no reasonable attempt to comply with the order?
  7. Will the respondent parent be able to offer a reasonable excuse for their non-compliance?
  8. Do you have an alternative remedy?

This is not an area of law one should launch hastily off into. The costs orders for an unsuccessful party can be quite significant. If you are contemplating bringing a contravention application, why don’t you let us review your case beforehand and advise you.

If you are considering or needing to lodge a contravention application please contact our office and someone will be able to assist.

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