Are you wondering what to do if your ex ignores a Parenting Order?
We’ve outlined what you need to know about Parenting Order breaches, evidence required and what your options are if your ex ignores your Parenting Order.
What Is A Parenting Order?
A Parenting Order is an order issued by the Court regarding all parenting arrangements for children. The conditions of the order are based on either the agreement reached by the divorcing parents through mediation or by a judgement handed down at a court hearing.
It can cover all issues relating to the care of children, including custody, living arrangements, specific time they will spend with the other parent, schooling, and more.
As each family and divorce have unique circumstances, Parenting Orders should cover as many conditions as may be required, and also include terms for amending or resolving any possible disputes that may arise from the order in the future.
Occasionally, there may be a need to temporarily change certain arrangements, and as long as both parents agree to them, (even verbally) it will not necessarily change or affect the order. As children grow older and circumstances change, amendments to the Parenting Order can be made by mutual agreement.
How Can A Parenting Order Be Breached?
There are numerous ways for Parenting Orders to be breached.
At the most basic level, every single condition stipulated in the order can be breached, with the two most common being:
- not making a child available or preventing a child from spending time with the non-custodian parent; or
- failing to return a child to the custodian parent.
Both seriously infringe on the rights of either parent and can have a negative effect on the child, which neither parent would want.
What Evidence Is Needed To Prove A Parenting Order Has Been Ignored?
It is always advisable to have as much evidence as possible in any dispute surrounding a Parenting Order.
Keeping accurate records of any minor breaches, such as returning a child late, could be useful in Court at a later date, if they become habit.
What Can You Do When Your Ex Ignores A Parenting Order?
Option 1 – Attend Dispute Resolution
This is a less costly and quicker process than going through the courts and is also a requirement of the Family Law Act. If you cannot reach agreement with your ex-spouse at the Family Dispute Resolution, you will be issued with a certificate, allowing you to seek legal advice.
Option 2 – Seek Legal Advice
Although it may cost substantially more, this may be the only way to resolve your dispute. A family lawyer will explain the process and your legal rights, and may even assist you in resolving the matters without going to Court.
Option 3 – Apply To The Court For Enforcement of your Orders, or a new Order
If your lawyer cannot avoid going through the Court, you can make an Application to the Family Court of Western Australia for enforcement of the parenting Orders. In an enforcement Application, the Court can cause the other person to comply with the parenting Orders.
Sometimes, if the previous Orders are no longer workable, then an application for a new Parenting Order will have to be made.
In the case where one party has breached a Parenting Order and they or the child cannot be found, the Court will issue a Location Order. This will require other people or any organisations to provide information they may have on the parent or child’s possible location.
In the case of a parent failing to return a child as required, the Court will issue a Recovery Order, which enables the Police to recover a child and return that child to the parent making the Application.
Option 4 – Make a Contravention Application to the Court
This is an Application where the Court can effectively “punish” one person for breaching Court Orders. Penalties such as fines, and in extreme cases, imprisonment, can apply.
Contravention Applications can be difficult, and it is important that you get advice from a Family Lawyer before making such an Application.
What Are The Penalties For Parenting Order Breaches?
Parenting Orders are not called “Orders” by chance – they are legally binding on both parents and penalties can be imposed by the Court.
Depending on the severity of the offence, they can range from having to attend a parenting program to issuing severe fines and even imprisonment.
Has your ex ignored a Parenting Order? Do you need help working out the best way forward?
Call our team of experienced family lawyers in Perth now. We can advise you on your options and what might be best in your personal circumstances.