Case Study: Dad’s evidence does not show a reasonable excuse for his breach

Dr Maree Livermore
Founder & CEO

Harry, appealed an earlier judgement that he had contravened parenting consent orders by failing to return his 11 year old son, Jake, to the mother, Amber on a Sunday night and then keeping Jake in his care for 4 months, resulting also in Jake’s removal from his school. Harry had claimed in his notice of risk that Jake was at an unacceptable risk of harm in Amber’s care. He alleged in that the Amber’s new partner had assaulted Jake by ‘throwing him onto the kitchen floor and had verbally assaulted and belittled’ Jake. Jake had reported this to the Police.

Section 70NAE of the Family Law Act provides that a parent has a reasonable excuse for contravening a parenting order if they reasonably believe that the contravention is necessary to protect a child, for as long, and only as long, as it is necessary to protect the child.

Harry had no evidence other than Jake’s report of his bad treatment, described in not much detail in his affidavit. Although he had been invited by the court to elaborate, Harry had not been able to do this. The original judge said that Harry had not been able to show he had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for the contravention. The appeal court agreed. Harry received a 12-month good behaviour bond and now must strictly comply with the parenting orders.

Names are pseudonyms.

Carrington & Gunby [2020] FamCAFC 117 (15 May 2020)