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If you have Court Orders in place, whether final or interim orders, and the other parent is not complying with the terms, you may be able to file a Contravention Application with the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia. This also applies to property settlement Orders, or other financial Orders. If you are the party who is failing to comply with the Orders, you might expect to be served with a Contravention Application by the other party and you will need to seek advice on whether you plead guilty or not guilty to the allegations.


Contravention Applications are usually filed where the offending party has ignored the notice they have been given in respect of their breach of the orders, and the other party wants to seek an order from the Court imposing a punishment, or another consequence, on the party for breaching the Court order. Sometimes, if the existing orders are not working, you might consider filing an Application in a Case.

What are the outcomes for a Contravention Application?

If the Court finds a party guilty of a contravention, or the party pleads guilty to an alleged contravention, the Court has powers to impose a remedy. The remedies available range from the enforcement of an existing Court Order to the punishment of a person for failure to obey an Order. For example, the Court may make an order that:


  • Ensures the resumption of the arrangements set out in an existing order;

  • Compensates a person for lost contact time  with their child or children;

  • Varies an existing order;

  • Puts a person on notice that if the person does not comply with an order, the person will be punished; or

  • Punishes a person by way of a fine or imprisonment.


What is the Standard of Proof?

In most applications before the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court, the Court will confirm that the standard of proof required is to the ‘balance of probabilities’, that is, it is more likely than not a particular event occurred of a particular fact is in existence. Except for more serious contravention applications, a party who files the application must prove the allegations on the ‘balance of probabilities’. Where is allegations is that one party has not complied with the Court Order, the alleging party (the Applicant) must establish that it is more likely than not that the alleged breach occurred.


The standard of proof is higher when the Court considers a serious allegation for a contravention application and contemplates imposing an imprisonment term. In these serious situations, the Court will require the Applicant to prove that allegation to a criminal standard, that is, the Applicant will need to prove the allegation ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. If there is doubt about a fact in issue and whether a particular event occurred, the Court would find the Respondent not guilty.


If you have been served with a Contravention Application, it is important that you seek immediate legal advice in relation to your prospects at defending the application and addressing the issues. If you wish to discuss your options with an experienced family lawyer, please contact KF Lawyers for a free initial consultation.

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