Judge Sends Queensland Father to Jail

The recent events which led to a Family Court Judge jailing a father should serve as an important reminder to parties to comply with Court Orders.

Whilst this was an extreme case, Judge Cassidy did note that it was important that Court Orders be obeyed to ensure the proper working of a court system. Too often, parties underestimate the implications of not following Court Orders.  There are significant consequences that can be imposed and parties should ensure that they fully understand what these are.

If you have breached an Order without reasonable excuse, the Court may impose any of the following consequences:

  1. Vary the Order;
  2. Compensate for the time lost with a child as a result of the contravention;
  3. Order you to attend a post separation parenting program;
  4. Order you to pay all or some of the legal costs the other party has incurred;
  5. Require you to enter into a bond;
  6. Require that you attend and participate in community service;
  7. Order you to pay compensation for expenses lost as a result of the contravention;
  8. Order you to pay a fine; or
  9. Order you to a sentence of imprisonment.

What is considered as a reasonable excuse?

If a party fails to comply with an Order, the Court will consider whether the person contravening the Order had a reasonable excuse.  A reasonable excuse may be considered in circumstances where:

  1. The party contravening the Order believed that their actions were necessary to protect  the child from harm;
  2. The breach of the Order only lasted as long as it was necessary to protect the child from harm; or
  3. The party contravening the Order failed to understand their obligations.

How do I change an Order?

If an existing Court Order no longer reflects the arrangements in place for a child, then it should be changed.  Also, if parties are no longer able to comply with the Order, then it should be changed.  If you have significant concerns in relation to facilitating the terms under an Order and if you believe that your Orders need to be altered, then it is important that you first discuss your concerns with a legal practitioner. Not all grounds for changing an existing Order are significant enough for a Court to consider.

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This information is provided as a general guide only and should not be used or relied upon by any person without obtaining legal advice in relation to their own circumstances.