In a recent case decided in the Federal Circuit Court, a father brought a Contravention Application against his former partner, alleging that she had broken a Parenting Order relating to their 11 year old child.

The mother and the child lived overseas, the father lived in Australia. Court orders provided that the father and the child communicate by phone each Sunday. The Orders also said that the mother was to give the father 60 days notice if the child was to travel between the overseas country where she was living, and another country for the weekend (a skiing trip perhaps ?). The mother had got a visa for the trip two weeks earlier, but had only told the father  two hours before they left. Nor did the scheduled telephone contact take place on the Sunday of the weekend when the child was in the other country.

The father, unhappy about the mother’s behaviour, brought an application that the mother be dealt with for contravening, or breaking, the Orders. The Court found the mother was “guilty” on both counts – contravention is a serious offence and a jail sentence can be imposed if it is proven. It was proven in this case, but the judge was not going to lock the mother up. He said the application by the father was “petty and unwarranted.” Since the missed Sunday phone call, the child had called her father each Sunday.

To rub salt into the father’s wound, the judge made an order that he pay $2,750 towards the mother’s legal costs.

So, be careful about rushing off to Court is there is a breach of a parenting order. The Courts are reluctant to punish the other parent unless the matter is more than “petty and unwarranted.”