Par­ent­ing arrange­ments dur­ing COVID-19

The phrase unprece­dent­ed’ has been used con­sis­tent­ly in the recent weeks and this is par­tic­u­lar­ly true for Fam­i­ly Law in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As Aus­trali­a’s poli­cies con­tin­ue to evolve each week, many sep­a­rat­ed par­ents who have chil­dren mov­ing from one house­hold to anoth­er are fac­ing increas­ing confusion. 

The Court has recog­nised that par­ents are fac­ing chal­lenges at this time and the Chief Jus­tice of the Fam­i­ly Court of Aus­tralia, Chief Jus­tice Alster­gren has issued a state­ment acknowl­edg­ing the impact that the pan­dem­ic has had on par­ents and par­ent­ing arrangements. 

In sum­ma­ry, Alster­gren CJ has reiterated:

  1. The wel­fare and best inter­ests of chil­dren remain paramount.
  2. Where there are exist­ing par­ent­ing Orders, par­ents must fol­low them sub­ject to gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy and unless the par­ties can agree on alter­nate arrangements.
  3. The Court acknowl­edges that there may be sit­u­a­tions that arise that make strict com­pli­ance with cur­rent court orders very dif­fi­cult, if not, impossible’.
  4. Par­ents are encour­aged to com­mu­ni­cate about orders and dis­cuss any poten­tial vari­a­tions to ensure that appro­pri­ate social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures are tak­en, or to reduce any risk to the chil­dren gen­er­al­ly when they are tran­si­tion­ing between households.
  5. In cir­cum­stances where Orders can­not be strict­ly adhered to, par­ents should ensure that the spir­it’ of the Orders are respect­ed and that each par­ent should con­tin­ue to have some con­tact with the chil­dren such as by video­con­fer­enc­ing, social media or telephone. 

At this stage, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has advised that stay at home’ laws do not apply to fam­i­lies that are sep­a­rat­ed across households. 

Whilst the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to esca­late mea­sures to pro­tect the pub­lic from COVID-19, the Courts have assured that they will con­tin­ue to per­form their duties dur­ing this time of cri­sis to sup­port the community. 

If your par­ent­ing arrange­ments are being impact­ed by COVID-19 or you have con­cerns about your chil­dren mov­ing between house­holds, it is impor­tant you obtain spe­cial­ist advice from a Fam­i­ly Lawyer to help you nav­i­gate these uncer­tain times.