What Is The Impact Of COVID-19 On Parenting Orders


HomeNewsWhat Is The Impact Of COVID-19 On Parenting Orders

What Is The Impact Of COVID-19 On Parenting Orders

Daily, the Prime Minister and State Premiers announce new restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). What is the impact of COVID-19 on Parenting Orders? What happens if your child is to spend time with a parent living overseas given the Federal Government’s total overseas travel ban? What do I do if the other parent lives in New South Wales? These are a few of the questions that our family law clients are now asking. Our response is as always that the best interests of the children must come first. We are living in a strange and uncertain time. 

The Impact of Covid-19 on Parenting Orders

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia has today issued a statement with respect to family law parenting orders. A link to the Media Release. http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/about/news/mr260320

The Court has reiterated that parents must act in the best interests of their children to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Strict compliance may be difficult or impossible. The Statement of the Chief Justice gives examples as follows:

  • If contact with a parent occurs at a contact centre which is not currently operating. 
  • A parent is collect a child from school and the school is now closed.
  • If one parent lives over the state border and the border is closed.
  • If there are safety issues like one parent or someone close to them has been exposed to COVID-19. 

To assist in dealing with these issues, the Chief Justice offers the following general guidance:

  • Firstly, if safe to do so, parents should communicate with each other and discuss the difficulties they are having with complying with parenting orders. Both parents should ensure that they consider issues raised sensibly and reasonably. 
  • Secondly, if you can reach an agreement about variation of parenting orders even for a short period, reduce the agreement to writing or even text message. This will assist the Court to understand what agreement was reached. 
  • Thirdly, if you need help, seek guidance from the Family Relationships Advice Line and consider undertaking telephone-based Family Dispute Resolution to assist in reaching an agreement. 
  • Lastly, if no agreement can be reached, seek advice from your family law solicitor. 

The Statement from the Chief Justice notes “At all times, parents or carers must act reasonably”

The relationship children have with their parents is important. At this time though, consideration must be given to the risk of infection to vulnerable members of the child’s household and family. 

In Conclusion

Take a common-sense approach to the matter. 

Consider whether there is a reasonable excuse for not complying with Parenting Orders?

Have you communicated the difficulties with the other parent?

What is in the best interests of the children?

If you have questions about Family Law matters relating to situations brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact us for a FREE initial consultation.