My teen won’t comply with our Family Court Orders! What do I do?
Struggling with a teen not adhering to Family Court Orders? Understand your legal obligations, the importance of your teen's perspective, and steps to take for compliance.
As kids grow into teenagers, they naturally start seeking more independence and control over their lives. This can pose challenges when Family Court Orders are in place dictating custody and visitation arrangements.
As a parent, you may find yourself grappling with questions about how to navigate this situation. Should you respect your teen's desires regarding where they want to live, or should you ensure everyone follows the Court's Orders?
When these orders are made, both parents are legally obligated to comply with them (Section 65DA(2) of the Family Law Act 1975). This includes ensuring that the child spends time with the other parent as outlined in the Orders. It is crucial to encourage your child to adhere to these arrangements to avoid any potential legal consequences.
Understanding Teenage Perspectives

Every child is unique, and as they become adolescents, their maturity and viewpoints evolve. The Family Law Act emphasizes the importance of considering a child's best interests in decision-making (Section 60CC). This includes taking into account their age, maturity, and background. In the eyes of the court, as teenagers mature, their preferences regarding parenting arrangements carry more weight (U v U (2002) 211 CLR 238).

It is common for arrangements made when the child was younger to no longer suit their best interests as they grow older.
What Should You Do?

Your course of action depends largely on whether you have the cooperation of the other parent.
  • If you do, consider creating a Parenting Plan together outlining the new arrangements.
  • If not, attempt negotiation through Family Dispute Resolution to reach an agreement.
However, if your teen wishes to live primarily with you and the other parent disagrees, they may file a Contravention Application with the Court. This can have serious consequences, including fines or imprisonment in extreme cases.
Understanding Contravention Applications

These applications allege a breach of parenting orders and can result in various penalties outlined in the Family Law Act.

Before filing, consider whether you seek punishment for the other parent or simply compliance with the original order. Seek legal advice before taking any legal action.

Remember, your teen's preference may stem from practical considerations rather than negative feelings towards the other parent. Encourage them to spend time with both parents to minimise the risk of legal action.
If you have any questions or concerns, our lawyers are here to help. Book a free consultation to discuss your situation.
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