Family Law orders are judgements made by judicial officers of the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The rationale underpinning Family Law is to assist family members in the breakdown of their de facto relationship or marriage, end the financial relationship, establish a clear parenting regime post separation and protect the child’s best interests. Judicial officers therefore tailor orders to suit the specific circumstances of each matter.

Family Law orders

Examples of Family Law orders include a Divorce Order, Property Order, Parenting Order, or  Recovery Order that an individual return the child to the primary carer. Within Parenting Orders, the judicial officer can make a wide variety of orders. Namely:

– A parent is restrained from allowing the child to come into contact with a specified individual;
– A parent must undertake random supervised drug screens; and
– A parent must not commit family violence.

Family Law orders may not be ruled in your favour and it may be difficult to adhere to the Orders when you feel that you have been disadvantaged.

But what happens when you contravene a Family Law order?

What are the legal penalties for breaching a Family Law order?

Judgements in Family Law matters are binding court orders no different to other areas of law. You therefore should not ignore or disobey any Family Law order even if may seem cumbersome.

You are likely to receive a penalty if the Court finds that you do not have a reasonable excuse for breaching the Family Law order. The penalty will depend upon the severity of the breach and surrounding circumstances:

Minor or major breach – Minor breaches are typically not penalised quite as harshly as a major breach.  A minor breach can may include  failing to allow the other parent the right to see a child on an agreed weekend whereas a major breach is refusing to let the other parent see the child at all.

The number of breaches – The number of times you have breached the Family Law order is a factor taken into account by the judicial officer.  Multiple breaches often result in a severe penalty.

The reason for your breach – If you have a reasonable excuse for failing to obey the Family Law order then you may receive a lower penalty. However, without a reasonable excuse is likely to result in a higher penalty.

Personal circumstances – Personal circumstances such as work obligations, financial problems, and accidents can also affect the penalty.

Type of Penalties

The type of penalty varies depending on the nature of the breach, if there is reasonable excuse, your personal financial and other circumstances.

Common penalties include:

  • A mere warning: If you have a reasonable excuse or it was a minor breach.

  • Specialist program: You could be ordered to attend a specialist program such as domestic violence treatment program, anger management or a post-separation parenting program.

  • Fine: You might receive a financial penalty for the breach.

  • Legal costs: You might be ordered to pay all of the legal costs of the other party

  • Compensate lost expenses: You might have to compensate lost expenses that result from your breach

  • Community service: You could be assigned to community service

  • Bond: You could be ordered to enter into a bond.

  • Imprisonment: If there is a major breach, the penalty may carry a sentence of imprisonment.

What to do if you have breached a Family Law order?

It is best to consult with a reputable lawyer who specialises in Family Law.

A skilled family lawyer at Pentana Stanton will seek the lowest penalty by ensuring that the circumstances of your case are put before the Court. A family lawyer can also assist in reopening a case where the breach is attributed to an unfair ruling.

Professional assistance is imperative in legal matters, especially in respect of breaches.  A lawyer specialising in Family Law is better equipped to seek orders to suit your specific matter and if you breach an order, strive for the lowest penalty.