Disobeying (breaching) a Court Order is a serious offence unless you have a reasonable excuse.
Under the Family Law Act, a ‘reasonable excuse’ has a legal meaning. You have a reasonable excuse for breaching a Court Order if:
- you believed you had to—to protect someone’s health or safety, or
- you didn’t understand that you were breaking the Order at the time.
What if my children don’t want to visit their other parent?
There’s no set age when children can decide where they live, or who they spend time with or communicate with. If the children refuse to visit, you still need to encourage them to spend time with the other parent or other people who are important to them unless there is a risk to them.
If there’s a Court Order saying the children should spend time with the other parent and they don’t want to go, you should get legal advice. If the dispute ends up in Court, it will consider the children’s age and their maturity when making a decision.
What if a parent doesn’t want to spend time with the children?
Parents don’t have to spend time with or communicate with to their children if they don’t want to. You can’t force the other parent to spend time with their children, even if there are Court Orders in place. The Court will not force a parent to spend time with them. If you want the other parent to take more responsibility you can try family counselling or dispute resolution.
What if the arrangements aren’t working?
If the arrangements for your child are no longer working, a Court Order will continue to apply until you get new consent Orders, a new parenting Order, or make a new parenting plan.
If the Court Orders are no longer working, you should get legal advice about how to change them. To make changes you can:
- apply to Court for the Order to be changed or cancelled.
- talk to the other parent or other people involved about changing the arrangements.
What happens when a Court Order is broken?
The Court has wide powers to deal with people who breach parenting Orders. If the Court finds a person breached an Order without a reasonable excuse, it can:
- order a person to participate in a parenting program run by an approved counselling service (helping them focus on their children’s needs and to sort out conflict).
- change the existing order—for example to compensate the other parent for any time lost with the children or to change other arrangements.
If a parent disobeys an order multiple times, or if the Court believes the parenting Order is being ignored, there may be more severe penalties. These include:
- paying for any expenses incurred because of the breach (such as loss of airfares).
- paying some or all of the other person’s legal costs.
- community work.
- entry into a bond for up to 2 years
- a fine.
- a jail term of up to 12 months.
If you’re accused of breaching a Court Order or you think someone else is breaching a Court Order, you should get legal advice.
Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.