Contravention of Court Orders or AVOs. What options do you have?


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contravention-of-court-orders-and-avoCourt Orders are the decisions or judgements of judicial officers, including Judges or Magistrates.

They can include an order made after a hearing by a judicial officer or an order made after parties have reached their own agreement and have applied to a court for consent orders.

Court Orders include Parenting Orders, Consent Orders and Financial Orders. Once an Order is made, each party affected by the Order must comply with it.

What to do in the event of a breach of Court Orders?

Attend family dispute resolution

Family dispute resolution can help you and the other party to work through your disagreement. This option is useful if parties feel that breaches of the order have occurred due to terms in the order that are unclear or not practical because of a change in circumstance. As both parties are involved in creating a solution the process can be collaborative with the outcome tailored to suit the needs of both parties. Parties can attend family dispute resolution before filing a court application and if an agreement is reached the parties can make a parenting plan or apply to the court for consent orders. This option is not suitable where there has been history of family violence in the domestic relationship.

Get legal advice

A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities under the order and advise you on the most appropriate step to take. Attaining the services of a lawyer may also assist in reaching an agreement without going to court. You can find legal advice at a legal aid office, community legal centre or a private firm.

Apply to a court

For Parenting Orders, apply to a court for a contravention order:

A court may only penalise an individual for breaching a parenting order if a party to the order files a contravention application alleging that the individual has failed to comply.If the court determines an individual has breached a parenting order, without reasonable excuse, it may impose a penalty. Depending upon the circumstances and the severity of the breach, a court may:

  • – Order attendance at a post separation parenting program
  • – Compensate for time lost with a child as a result of the breach
  • – Require the person to enter into a bond
  • – Order the individual in breach to pay all or some of the legal costs of the other parties
  • – Require the person to participate in community service
  • – Order that a fine be paid
  • – Order imprisonment
  • – Discharge, vary or suspend the order to allow a party to apply for a further order to alter the parenting order1

For Financial Orders, apply to a court for an enforcement hearing:

If you cannot reach an agreement you may consider applying for an enforcement hearing.The respondent will be cross-examined as to the state of their financial affairs and their ability to pay their financial obligations under the order. The process can be complex and you should seek legal advice before proceeding.

The outcome of the enforcement hearing may result in the court:

  • – Identifying the total amount owed
  • – Ordering the total amount owed to be paid in full or by instalments
  • – Ordering enforcement of the obligation
  • – Preventing the disposal of property or wasting of assets by the payer
  • – Suspending the enforcement of an obligation
  • – Making an order for costs

A respondent can be penalised for failing to comply if they fail to:

  • – Serve a financial statement
  • – Produce copies of a documents to the applicant
  • – Answer a question asked of them
  • – Give an answer to the Court’s satisfaction2

A refusal or failure to comply may amount to be a contempt of court or an offence.

Appehended Violence Order

What is an AVO?

An AVO is an apprehended violence order intended to protect individuals who are fearful of future violence or threats to their safety. These orders are sometimes referred to as restraining orders or protection orders and set out restrictions on the other person’s behaviour.

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order is made where the people are related or have had a domestic relationship. An Apprehended Personal Violence Order is made where the people involved are not related or do not have a domestic relationship.

What to do in the event of a breach of an AVO?

If the defendant breaches the AVO you should report the breach to the police as soon as possible. The police have the power to arrest the defendant and charge them with the criminal offence of contravening the AVO (or breaching the AVO). Depending upon the circumstances the police may also choose to charge the individual with other criminal offences such as assault or malicious damage. The defendant will be issued a Court Attendance Notice and will be required to attend court to answer the criminal charges.3

Penalties for breach

Contravening an AVO is a criminal offence and if an individual is convicted it carries a maximum fine of $5,500 and/or 2 years imprisonment in NSW. 4

Penalties vary across the states and territories. Any conviction for a contravention of an AVO will appear on the individual’s criminal record.Depending upon the severity of the breach and whether other charges have been made the individual in breach may be put on bail or have bail refused and be kept in custody.

If your circumstances have changed and you no longer require the AVO, you must make an application to vary the AVO in order to prevent accidental breaches. However if there are children under the age of 16 named on the AVO only the police can make an application to vary its terms.

Related Family Law Judgments

More Information

Ewa Zieba

Ewa Zieba

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
Ewa is completing a Bachelor of Social Science and Laws at Macquarie University with a major in Anthropology. With experience at specialist family law firms and Women's Legal Services NSW, Ewa is pursuing a career specializing in family law. Special interest areas include the care and protection of children and alternate dispute resolution, with an aim to improve access and participation in parenting matters.
Ewa Zieba
Categories: Apprehended Domestic Violence Order, Breach of an AVO, Breach of Consent Orders, Breach of Court Orders, Breach of Financial Orders, Breach of Parenting Orders, Breach of Property Orders, Definition of Family Violence, Family Violence Intervention Orders, Victims of Domestic Violence
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