When a family court issues a family order, it needs to be regarded with extreme seriousness. As your family lawyer, and even a criminal lawyer, will tell you, the repercussions of breaching family orders can be severe.

If you do not have children, nor have ever divorced, you may be wondering what a family order is, so let us explain. They are issued by a judge in the Family Court as rulings on matters that relate to a child, or children, normally when that child’s parent separate or divorce. Family orders apply whether the child’s parents were married, or in a de facto relationship.

The sorts of ruling that a family order will apply to, includes which of the two parents the child will live with, the criteria that apply with regards to the absent parent’s visitation rights, and one of the most important, is who has parental responsibility which, unless there are other factors which exist, will normally be held jointly by both parents.

In many cases, a Family Court will issue a family order when, despite the best efforts of their respective family lawyers, the couple has been unable to reach an agreement as it applies to their children. For this reason, it will undoubtedly be made clear to each parent that they must abide by the family order.

As the family order applies to both parents, then theoretically it is possible that both of them could breach it, in different ways. The reality, however, that in cases where a family order has been breached, it tends to only one of the parents which do so.

As the law stands, there are four categories of breach of a family order, and each has its own definition:

#1 Deliberately Failing to Comply with the Order:

An example would be a mother deliberately refusing to let the children’s father have visitation.

#2 Making No Attempt To Comply With The Order:

This might be a father who does not reply to any communication from the children’s mother or her lawyers when she wishes to discuss the children’s schooling or health under joint parental responsibility

#3 Making It Impossible For The Other Parent to Comply:

If the father is due to have visitation at certain hours but the mother arrives home late with the children on a consistent basis.

#4 Helping Someone Else Breach A Family Order:

This occurs when a friend or other relative assist a parent in breaching a family order. A simple example is when they look after the children for the father when he is supposed to be with the children for visitation.

If you breach a family order, unless there is a justifiable and reasonable cause for doing, you can expect some severe consequences.  Reasonable explanations could include you believed the children were in danger, or that you did not realise your actions constituted a breach of the order.

As for the repercussions that are likely to follow if cannot justify your breach, for a start, the judge may decide to alter the family order. That could be as dramatic as changing which parent the children live with or ending all visitation rights for the absent parent.

If that wasn’t enough the court can also issue a fine, and ultimately they can order you go to prison if they consider that the breach of the family order was extreme, or if you have committed multiple breaches.