Have you recently been through a family law settlement in relation to children or property? Have you obtained property or children’s Orders from the Court? If so, it is important to note that this is not the end of the matter. Like it is important getting up to the stage of obtaining Orders, it is just as important complying with those Orders.

What happens if the other party to the Orders fails to comply?

When a parenting or property Order is made, each person who is a party to the order must comply with it. If you allege another person has not followed an order, the following options are available:

  1. Attending Dispute Resolution; or
  2. Applying to a Court.

The law relating to the consequences of failing to comply with orders is complicated. What may appear as a failure to comply with an order to you may not be according to the law.

A person breaches an order if he or she:

  1. Intentionally fails to comply with the order; or
  2. Makes no reasonable attempt to comply with the order; or
  3. Intentionally prevents compliance with the order by a person who is bound by it; or
  4. Assists a contravention of the order by a person who is bound by it.

If a court decides a person has contravened a parenting order, it will consider whether the person had a reasonable excuse for contravening the order. Some examples of reasonable excuses that may satisfy the court include:

  1. The person did not understand the obligations imposed by the order; or
  2. The person reasonably believed that the actions constituting the contravention were necessary to protect the health and safety of a person, including the person was contravened the order or the child; and
  3. That the time of the contravention was not longer than was necessary to protect the health and safety of the person who contravened the order or the child.

Possible Outcomes

A court may decide one of the following:

  1. The contravention alleged was not established; or
  2. The contravention was established but there was a reasonable excuse for contravention; or
  3. There was a less serious contravention without reasonable excuse; or
  4. There was a more serious contravention without reasonable excuse.

If the court finds that the contravention was without reasonable excuse, the person who has breached the order may be liable to the following:

  1. Attendance at a post separation parenting program;
  2. Provide compensation to the other party for time lost with a child as a result of the contravention;
  3. Enter into a bond;
  4. Pay all or some of the legal costs of the other parties;
  5. Pay compensation for reasonable expenses lost as a result of the contravention;
  6. Participate in community service;
  7. Pay a fine; or
  8. Imprisonment.

In property matters, if the Orders provide for a person to sign documents and the person is refusing to sign, did you know you can request an officer of the Court that made the order to sign on behalf of the person?

If you are seeking to enforce the property order, you may apply for one of the following enforcement processes:

  1. Enforcement warrant; or
  2. Third party debt notice; or
  3. An enforcement hearing to seek sequestration of property, receivership or other appropriate orders.

To find out if there has been a contravention, whether a reasonable excuse applies and about the possible outcomes contact one of our Family Law Solicitors today.

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