Help! My Ex Isn’t Complying With Parenting Orders – What Can I Do?

Blog post by Sarah Nicholls


All parties affected by a parenting order made by a court are expected to comply with the orders.

If your former partner is not complying with parenting orders, you may consider one of the following options:

  1. Attend family dispute resolution;
  2. Apply to the court; or
  3. Seek legal advice.

Family Dispute Resolution

Engaging in Family Dispute Resolution may assist you and your former partner resolve issues out of court. If an agreement is reached during this process, you may enter into a parenting plan or apply to the court to formalise your agreement by way of consent orders. If the registrar is satisfied that the orders sought by the parties are proper, it will make the parenting orders without the need to attend court.


If you cannot reach an agreement with your former partner, you may consider applying to a court to vary the existing parenting orders or commencing contravention proceedings.

Varying the existing orders

Before you can apply to the court to vary the existing orders, you must attend Family Dispute Resolution if you have not done so in the past 12 months and obtain a certificate from a registered provider. There are some exceptions to this requirement, for example, if there is family violence, child abuse or some urgency.

It is important to understand that the court will only vary final parenting orders if it is shown that there has been a significant change of circumstances that make the change necessary.

Contravention proceedings

A contravention application is an application where a party can ask the court to remedy a breach of a court order.

The court will first determine whether or not there has been a breach of the orders. If the court finds that there has been a breach of the court orders and there is no reasonable excuse, it may impose a remedy. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the breach, the court may:

  • vary the orders to reduce the chance of further breaches;
  • give one party ‘make up’ time with their child or children;
  • order a party to attend a parenting program;
  • impose a community service order;
  • order legal costs;
  • impose a fine; or
  • in the most serious of cases, order a sentence of imprisonment.

If your former partner is not following the court orders, it is important that you seek legal advice as to the best avenue to take. Please contact Sarah Nicholls of Culshaw Miller Lawyers to make an appointment.