Children – contravention – mother’s genuine but unreasonably held belief of sexual abuse…

family law casenotes

…by father is not a reasonable excuse for her 22 admitted breaches – ‘serious disregard’ not established and 24-month bond ordered

In Peluso & Karle [2023] FedCFamC1F 87 (24 February 2023) Henderson J heard a father’s contravention application alleging that the mother had contravened final orders 22 times.

The mother pleaded guilty to all breaches but argued that she had a reasonable excuse.

After reviewing the case law on ‘reasonable excuse’ Henderson J said (from [94]):

“ …[M]erely contravening orders because of a child disclosing alleged sexual abuse by the other parent is not a reasonable excuse. Further, having a genuine belief of the disclosure of sexual abuse made by a child is not a reasonable excuse per se. The belief must be genuinely held and the belief is based on reasonable grounds.

[95] One substratum of facts that plays a significant role in determining whether the belief is based on reasonable grounds is whether the alleging parent has accepted the outcome of an investigation and/or the findings made by the Court.

[96] A second factor that is important for the Court to consider is whether the contravening party has sought to change the orders they are contravening. …



[102] While the mother may genuinely hold the view that the father has sexually abused the children, particularly X, it is not reasonably held on the evidence … The investigations of allegations made before the final orders were made were not substantiated, and the investigation undertaken as a result of the allegations … have not been substantiated. The mother entered into the consent orders knowing the disclosures allegedly made by X. This conduct is inconsistent with the mother now holding a reasonable belief that the new disclosures which mirror, in many respects, the prior disclosures, are true.”

The mother was placed on a good behaviour bond without surety for a period of 24 months.

Craig Nicol and Keleigh Robinson are co-editors of The Family Law Book. Both are accredited specialists in family law (Queensland and Victoria, respectively). The Family Law Book is a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service (

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