What to Do If a Mother Is Withholding Child from Father in Australia

If you’re in the situation where a mother is withholding a child from a father in Australia, you’re probably at a loss as to what to do. You don’t have any parenting orders yet, you want to try to stay out of court – but she won’t let you see the kids!

Going through a divorce or separation isn’t easy, and it’s made even harder when there are kids involved. Potential resentments between the separating couple can result in unfortunate situations such as where the mother is withholding a child from the father in Australia.

The most common scenario

Typically, after separation the kids will live primarily with one parent (usually the mum) and stay with the other parent on weekends or during part of the school holidays. Unfortunately however, many ex-partners do not have an amicable split. This can affect how they treat their kids and each other, and this can sometimes result in a mother withholding a child from the father in Australia.

However, denying contact is generally not acceptable, unless it is done to protect the physical and psychological safety of the young one.

Solutions outside of the court

If you are in the situation where a mother is withholding a child from a father in Australia, here are some non-legal steps you can take to resolve the situation:

  • Have a conversation with the other parent in a safe environment and share your concerns
  • Go to counselling together (you may or may not want to include your kids)
  • Visit a psychologist to resolve any emotional issues that could be contributing to the denial of contact; and/or
  • Go to mediation together.

Try all of these options at least once – you may need to attempt them multiple times for optimal results.

Legal system limitations

It is generally best to try to resolve parenting disagreements outside of the court – not only is it cheaper, but it is often more effective. The legal system is limited in how it can resolve the situation of a mother withholding a child from a father in Australia. If you cannot agree upon parenting arrangements, the court will decide for you based on what they believe is in the best interests of the young one. They will be given the power to decide who the young one will spend Christmas with and who they will spend the majority of their time with.

What to do if parenting orders are breached

If parenting orders have been put in place and they are breached; e.g. the mother is withholding the child from the father in Australia, you may be able to apply for a contravention application.

This application is sent to the court, notifying them of the breach to parenting orders. It is a good idea to keep detailed notes of all occasions when the parenting orders have been breached (including time, date and location), as this can be used as evidence in court.

The police should not be contacted directly unless the application has been approved and orders have been put in place to allow the police to step in.
The court may require the mother withholding the child from the father in Australia to pay a fine, cover some or all of the legal costs that the other party incurred, compensate for lost time, or go to a post-separation parenting program – just to name a few possible consequences.

Things to consider before going to court

The results of a contravention application cannot guarantee that a dad will spend more time with his young one. Genuine compliance with court orders must come from both parents wanting to do the right thing by their young one. This is why mediation and counselling are usually the most effective means of dealing with a mother withholding a child from a father in Australia.

If you have tried these options to no avail, then by all means take your issue to court. But it is first worth weighing up the pros and cons, such as how going to court may impact the young one, how you will afford the fees, and whether you are likely to get your desired outcome.