When Your Former Partner Does Not Follow a Parenting Order

Posted on: 14 August 2018

When a marriage or common-law relationship comes to an end and there are children involved, a parenting order might have been issued by the Family Court. The parenting order generally covers which parent the child will primarily live with, as well as the visitation allowances of the other parent (including the frequency and duration of visitation). But what can you do if your former partner violates the parenting order? And what are some instances where you might it feel it's necessary to violate the parenting order yourself?

Minor Issues

Minor violations of a parenting order can be dealt with at your discretion. For example, if your former partner is regularly late in delivering your child to you, you might wish to simply ask them to make an effort to be on time. However, if they drastically overstep the limits of their visitation rights without notification or a reasonable excuse, then you might deem this to be a serious violation of the parenting order. But are there ever any reasonable excuses for wilfully ignoring a parenting order?

Violating the Order

A minor violation aside, one parent cannot defy a parenting order simply because they do not agree with the terms or if they failed to clarify any of the terms and so did not understand them. Such a misunderstanding can hopefully be quickly rectified, allowing to the ongoing adherence to the order. A clear instance where a parent might decide to violate a parenting order is when they have legitimate grounds to believe that the child might be in jeopardy with the possibility of being harmed while under the care of the other parent, regardless of whether the parent is the primary caregiver or only receives limited visitation. In this instance, the parenting order might need to be amended.

Amendments and Contraventions

In the event of seeking an amendment to the parenting order, or if you wish to formally lodge a contravention of the order, and you do not believe that dispute resolution will be effective or appropriate, the matter will be heard by the Family Court. A family lawyer can lodge any applications on your behalf and can represent you in the matter. A ruling in your favour can make your former partner legally obligated to allow the child to spend more time with you to make up for any lost visitation time. Serious breaches of parenting orders can result in fines and even imprisonment.  

Ideally, a parenting order will be followed to the letter, but it's important to know your rights and obligations if this is ever not the case.