What are parenting orders?
When a dispute arises in relation to providing care arrangements for a child and court proceedings are initiated, the court will examine all of the evidence presented by the parties and consider what future arrangements will be in the child’s best interests. The court will then make a series of parenting orders that deal with:
- Who has Parental responsibility for the child;
- Who the child lives with;
- Who the child spends time with;
- How and when the child is to communicate with the parent they do not live with; and
- Anything else that is relevant to the care, welfare and development of the child.
- Once parenting orders are made by the court they are both legally binding and enforceable.
- If a term of those orders is breached by one of the parties, there can be significant consequences.
When parenting orders are being breached
If you have immediate concerns for the safety of your child or children call the South Australian Police on 000.
If there is no immediate risk to the safety of your child you will need to seek legal advice. A solicitor will be able to assess the seriousness of the breach and advise you what options are available to remedy the situation.
In some circumstances we find that the other party may just be misinterpreting the orders. In this type of situation, the misunderstanding can often be rectified by having your solicitor write to the other side to provide clarification.
If your solicitor considers that the situation requires further action, they might suggest that the parties attend a mediation at the Legal Services Commission (also known as a Family Dispute Resolution Conference or FDR).
FDR’s are faster, cheaper and less stressful than going to court. Unlike community mediation where solicitors do not attend, solicitors play a meaningful role in facilitating the negotiations at FDR’s; enabling you to negotiate a solution to the problem rather than leaving it in the hands of the court.
If you have been unable to rectify the situation through negotiation, you may need to seek the courts intervention by filing an Contravention Application.
It is important to ensure that you only commence legal proceedings as a last resort. Making an Contravention Application for trivial matters can be perceived by the courts as an abuse of process and end up working against you. For this reason we recommend seeking legal advice prior to taking this step.