Family Law
October 24, 2022
Attending Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Family dispute resolution can assist parties in finding an agreement. It is a less formal way of resolving any disagreements than going to court and is more cost effective. In most cases, it is compulsory for parties to attend FDR before going to court. See our article on FDR for more details.

If an agreement is reached, parties may:

  • Enter into a parenting plan; or
  • Apply to the Court for consent orders.
Reasonable steps to comply

When a parenting order is made, each party must take all reasonable steps to comply with the order. For example, each parent has the obligation to ensure that the child spends time with the other parent, so they must make reasonable steps for this to occur, such as taking the child to the agreed drop off point.

Reasonable excuses

When an individual has failed to comply with an order, the Court will consider whether the individual had a reasonable excuse for doing so. Some examples are:

  • The individual did not comprehend the obligations in the order;
  • The person reasonably believed that their actions were necessary to protect the health and safety of a person, including the child or the party themselves; and
  • The contravention did not last longer than was necessary to protect the health or safety of the relevant person.

When a contravention has occurred, the party making allegations against the other must prove their allegations on the balance of probabilities. This means, that it is that the evidence shows that the contraventions are more likely than not to have occurred. 

Penalties for failing to comply with a parenting order

If it is found that a party has failed to comply with a parenting order without reasonable excuse, and depending on the nature of the contravention, the court may:

  • Vary the order;
  • Apply to the Court for consent orders.
  • Order you to attend a post separation parenting program;
  • Compensate for time lost with the child;
  • Order a party to pay all or some of the legal costs of the other party;
  • Order a party to pay compensation for reasonable expenses lost as a result of the contravention;
  • Require a party to participate in community service;
  • Order a party to pay a fine; or
  • Order a party to a sentence of imprisonment.

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