What is Breaching a Custody Court Order in Family Law?

What is Breaching a Custody Court Order in Family Law?

Our Vancouver Custody Lawyers know that breaching a custody court order in family law means either ignoring that custody court order, opposing what it says or not achieving the result it is intended to achieve. If an order tells you to do something relating to your child and you don’t, you will face some very serious consequences that can range from paying penalties and fines, to being jailed in extreme circumstances as explained below. However, in some very limited situations, breaching custody court orders are justified:

Breaching a custody court order means disrespecting some of the highest authorities in this country, and that carries on very serious consequences, unless justified. Breaching family law custody orders is a subject not too many people talk about but it happens every day.

Breaching a Family Law Court Order on Custody

Custody orders are meant to bring routine and harmony into a child’s life. Custody orders are most often breached because parents do not agree that the judge’s order is in the best interests of the child. Regardless of those beliefs, parents chose to leave the child’s destiny in to a judge’s hands, and they must respect what the judge says regardless of the outcome.

In some situations breaching a custody court order is not justified and in some situations it is justified. Let’s look at those situations:

Situations Where Breaching a Custody Court Order is NOT Justified:

  1. A parent fails to make the child available for exchange for no good reason other than saying ‘the child didn’t want to go’;
  2. A parent fails to hand over the child because that parent has a party to go to and wants to take the child without consulting or obtaining consent from the other parent;
  3. A parent is angry that he/she is not being paid child support and therefore the child should not see the other parent;
  4. A parent is angry that the other parent is not paying spousal support and therefore the child should suffer and not see the other parent;
  5. A parent is not a big fan of the new lady/gentleman in the other parents’ life;
  6. A parent does not like the step children of the other parent and does not want the child to see those children;
  7. A parent wants to take a trip with the child and deems it fit just to take off and barge on the other parent’s parenting time;
  8. A parent making baseless accusations against the other parent as an excuse to keep the child, such as reporting the other parent to the police or the Ministry;
  9. A parent does not like the values or the morals of the other parent;
  10. A parent has personal animosity towards the other parent and wants the child to take sides with her/him;
  11. A parent is alienating the child, forcing the child to choose between the two parents; etc.

Situations Where Breaching a Custody Court Order is Justified

In some situations breaching a custody court order is justified. In situations when you have a custody order but you have no way but to breach it in the best interests of the child, your breach will be justified. These situations are as follows and are stated under s. 62 of the Family Law Act:

  1. One parents believes that the child may suffer family violence if parenting time or contact is exercised;
  2. One parents reasonably believes that the other parent may be impaired by drugs or alcohol and unfit to exercise parenting time;
  3. The child is suffering from illness and there is a statement from the doctor indicating and parenting time should not be exercised.
  4. One parent repeatedly fails to exercise court ordered parenting time.
  5. Other circumstances the court deems fit.

Consequences for Unjustified Breaching of a Custody Court Order

If the court is of the opinion that breaching the court order was not justified, the court has many options to address the breach. The court can choose from one or a combination of the below remedies to make sure the breach does not happen again and there are consequences for it.

  1. Make Up Parenting time: the parent who was denied parenting time will get makeup parenting time to be taken off against the breaching parent’s parenting time;
  2. Mandatory Counselling or Classes: the court can order the breaching parent to undergo counselling, parenting courses, classes and any other programs the court deems fit;
  3. Reporting to the Court: the breaching parent would have to go back before the court and report compliance to make sure the behaviour is not repeated again;
  4. Posting Security: the breaching parent would have to pay a certain amount of money into the court, and if the breach happens again, that money will be taken away from that parent;
  5. Paying the costs of the other parent: the breaching parent will to pay reasonable costs of the other parent in exercising their parenting time;
  6. Paying Fines: the court can order the breaching parent to pay a fine up to $5000 either to the court or the other parent.
  7. Police Enforcement: the court can make an order that a police officer can arrest the breaching parent and bring them to court if the police is of the opinion that a custody order has been breached.
  8. Taking away custody: if there are repeated and consistent breaches or interference with parenting time, in extreme circumstances, the court can take away custody from the breaching parent either temporarily or on a permanent basis.

Whether you are dealing with a parent who is breaching a custody court order, or have breached a custody court order, there are some very complex and important consequences. It is best to immediately speak with a family lawyer to obtain a strategy in how to navigate around custody order breaches. Call us at 604-974-9529 or get in touch to learn more.