…by father is not a reasonable excuse for her 22 admitted breaches – ‘serious disregard’ not established and 24-month bond ordered
In Peluso & Karle  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 ):
“ …[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.
 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.
 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. …
 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 (thefamilylawbook.com.au).