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There will usually be reasons for why a person has breached (the court calls a breach a contravening) a Court Order, so it is important to know when a Court might be prepared to accept a person's reasons for why they breached the Court Order.
The Family Law Act says that the excuse for breaching (contravening) a Court Order, must be a ‘reasonable excuse’.
What is a 'reasonable excuse' for breaching a Court Order.
A ‘reasonable excuse for being in breach of a Court Order might be:
If the Court Order is quite clear and easy to understand, then convincing the judge you did not understand the Court Order may be very hard.
A ‘reasonable excuse' for having breached a Court order might be:
That sort of excuse will only be found to be reasonable,e if the length of time you were in breach (contravention) of the Court Order, was only as long as it was necessary to protect your own or the Child (or other person's) health or safety.
Before looking to see whether your excuse for breaching the Court Order might be accepted you should make sure you have actually breached the Court Order. Read our fact sheet When is a Court Order breached.
If your excuse for breaching the Court order is not accepted by the Court then you will need to know what is explained in the fact sheet What happens if you breach a Court Order.
It must be proved to the satisfaction of the Court that the Court Order has been breached. Read how to do that in our fact sheet How do you prove a breach of a Court Order.
You must also follow the correct procedure to have a Court do something about a breach of a Court Order. Read how to do that in our fact sheet How do I make a Contravention Application.
You may also want to read the information in our fact sheet about whether you Can have an excuse for breaching a Court Order.
Courts can enforce compliance with Orders. We have a separate fact sheet explaining What happens if you breach a Court Order.
See also our fact sheet How do you prove a breach of a Court Order.
If you want to have the Court take action about a breach of a Court Order you can read how to do that in our fact sheet How do I make a Contravention Application.
Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
Other Questions answered in the Court Orders & Consent Orders Section
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