Breaching a Parenting Agreement: When Your Ex Denies Your Visitation Rights

When your relationship with your partner ends, your relationship with your children can arguably become more complicated, at least from a legal viewpoint. Whether you have primary custody and just how often you get to see them will be determined by a parenting agreement, which can be a matter of some mediation before it's lodged with the Family Court and then approved. As horrifying as the thought might be, what happens if your ex refuses to comply with this agreement and denies you access to your children?

The Parenting Agreement

Family law generally only becomes enforceable when a parenting agreement has been finalised as part of your separation. This agreement stipulates which party has primary custody, the visitation rights of the other party, and any maintenance that must be paid by either party. When your ex breaches this agreement in a manner that denies you your predetermined visitation rights, you should take the appropriate action.

Stay Calm

Don't engage in an argument with your ex at the time of the incident, such as if you have been denied entry to their home to collect your children. Remain calm for the sake of your children, who might be present or at least within earshot. Leave the scene before the matter has a chance to escalate.

Note the Details

Keep a detailed log of the incident. Note the precise time that you arrived to collect your children (which will likely have been predetermined by the parenting agreement). Also note the reasons your ex gave (if any) for their refusal to allow the children to see you, along with any communication from your ex (if any) prior to your arrival to collect your children.

Lodge a Contravention Application

If the incident has directly contravened your parenting order, you should lodge a contravention application with the Family Court. Consult a lawyer if you're unsure about this stage of the proceedings.

Police Intervention (If Necessary)

If it's determined that your ex has breached the parenting order, the court can grant police the necessary power to intervene if the issue is repeated. The court's discretion is required before the police can enforce the conditions of the order, so the appropriate application must be lodged before you can consider contacting the police.

The parenting order has given you certain rights, and if your ex seeks to deny you these rights, you need to follow the appropriate process to restore them.

To learn more about family law, contact a lawyer.