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Issues to consider about contravention of orders affecting children

Information to get when helping a person who is calling about a contravention application.

Callers may be very upset when they call alleging that the other party has contravened a parenting order. It is important not to tell the client what they want to hear, even if they are distressed. To find out how serious the risk is to the child it may help to ask the following kinds of questions:

How old is the child?

The age of the child will change the kinds of advice and referrals to give.

Think about who their primary attachment is.

Think also about the degree of autonomy that the child has.

Has the child refused to go or run off from the other parent's home? A court may not think that it is reasonable to force a 16 or 17-year-old to spend every second weekend with a parent when they just want to hang out with their friends.

Can the child defend themselves or call the other parent if they are really at risk?

How serious are their concerns?

If it was your child, what would you have done in the circumstances? Has the caller done any of the following:

  • got a report from a doctor
  • had medical checks for the child
  • reported concerns to the police, or
  • spoken to the school?

How long has the caller had these concerns?

The caller may tell you that the other parent is an alcoholic or is drug addicted and yet they have been sending the child off to stay with the other parent for the past couple of years. Why have they not acted sooner?

More information

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

See Federal Circuit and Family Court—Children: Compliance and enforcement(opens in a new window).