What is a Contravention Order?

contravention order

By cropped movement legal

· Read time: 4 minutes

A contravention of court orders, often referred to as a “breach,” occurs when someone fails to comply with legally enforceable court orders. 

This non-compliance can involve intentional violations, making no reasonable attempt to follow the order, preventing compliance by someone bound by it, or aiding such a contravention. 

A Contravention Order serves as a means to address violations or contraventions of parenting orders issued by the court. 

To take legal action for a contravention, the affected party must file an application with the court. 

It’s crucial not to seek retaliation, as demonstrated in the Bircher case, and instead, seek legal advice when accusing a former partner of contravening a parenting order.

What would be defined as a contravention of a parenting order?

A contravention of a parenting order occurs when someone bound by the order fails to comply with its provisions. This can encompass various aspects of the order, including parental responsibilities, residence, time spent with a child, and communication.

If parenting orders grant parental responsibility, hindering its execution.

For example, if a parent with parental responsibility is prevented from making decisions that affect the child’s life, it can be considered a contravention.

If parenting orders dictate a child’s residence, disrupting the designated time or care.

A contravention may also arise when a parent doesn’t adhere to the specified residence arrangement, leading to disruptions in the child’s living situation or care.

If parenting orders stipulate time spent with a child, impeding or adversely affecting it.

When the ordered time for a child to spend with a particular parent is interfered with, this could be a contravention of the parenting order.

If parenting orders mandate communication with a child, obstructing or interfering with it.

Preventing a child from communicating with the other parent, as mandated by the order, may constitute a contravention.

What would be a reasonable defence for a contravention order?

A person facing a contravention order may have valid reasons for their actions. A reasonable defence could include:

Lack of understanding of order obligations.

If the individual genuinely did not comprehend the obligations imposed by the order, this may be a legitimate defense.

Belief in necessary actions for health and safety, limited duration.

If the person reasonably believed that their actions were essential to protect someone’s health and safety and the contravention was not prolonged beyond what was necessary, this can be a valid defence.

Child’s reluctance to go.

In cases where the child is reluctant to comply with the order, this could be taken into consideration as a reasonable defence.

What should you do if a parenting order has been contravened?

If you find yourself in a situation where a parenting order has been contravened, it’s essential to take the appropriate steps to address the issue and seek resolution.

What are penalties for contravening a court order?

Contravention of a court order is a serious matter and can lead to various penalties, which can range from fines to community service and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalties depends on the specific circumstances of the contravention.

What standard of proof is required?

To establish a contravention of a parenting order, a certain standard of proof is required. The court needs to be satisfied that the contravention occurred. This standard of proof is usually the “balance of probabilities” rather than the stricter “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard often seen in criminal cases.

How does it work in Court?

Contravention orders are typically brought before the court, where the evidence is presented, and a decision is made based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Location Orders

In some cases, a court may issue a Location Order to help locate a child in situations where their whereabouts are unknown or in dispute. These orders are aimed at ensuring the child’s safety and welfare.

Recovery Orders

If a parenting order has been contravened, and a child has not been returned to the care of the rightful guardian, the court may issue a Recovery Order.

This legal instrument allows for the child to be located and returned to the person with legal custody.


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