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How COVID-19 is Affecting Your Parenting Orders 26 March 2020

Covid-19 continues to impact our lives, health, financial security and family. The Family Law system is acutely aware of the impact that Covid-19 has on families and has issued further guidance in relation to Parenting Orders. Here is how COVID-19 is affecting your parenting orders as of 26th March 2020.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Honourable William Alstergren issued a statement on 26 March 2020 particularly in relation to the impact of Parenting Orders and Covid- 19.

General Guidance

The Chief Justice has issued general guidance to assist in these difficult times, as summarised below:

  1. It is imperative that parents and carers act in the best interest of their children, ensuring the children’s safety and wellbeing;
  2. Parents are expects to comply with Court orders in relation to parenting arrangements.
  3. There may be situations in which strict compliance with the Court Orders are very difficult.
  4. In the event it is not possible to have strict compliance with the Court orders then:
    1. Communicate;
    2. Find a practical solution to the difficulties – considered sensible and reasonably
  5. If a change to the arrangements is agreed, this should be recorded in writing – via WhatsApp, text message or email

It is extremely important that at all times, parents or carers must act reasonably.

To act reasonably, or to have a reasonable excuse for not complying with Court orders, is a matter that is considered by the Court (pursuant to Section 70NAE of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)).

The Honourable William Alstergren also reiterates the importance of mediation. We have mediators at Watts McCray Lawyers who would be able to assist in your matter.

Regular guidance is being provided by the Law Society, the Family Law section and the Court. We will provide updates to our website in relation to the same.

COVID-19 and Separated Parents

How COVID-19 is affecting your parenting orders?

We again remind you of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia top 10 guide published recently for separated parents during COVID-19 including the impact this may have on parenting orders or court proceedings. In relation to the practical arrangements for parenting orders, it is noted:

  1. If schools are closed and changeover normally occurs after and at school or sporting event, nominate or start planning for another neutral or public location that would be suitable and where social distancing practices can be maintained.

 

  1. Unfortunately sporting activities or activities parents plan to do with children during school holidays or weekends are unlikely to now be available. If time arrangements with the other parent or important people cannot occur, find other ways to maintain the connection including digital communications.

 

  1. Of course, follow government guidelines in terms of limiting exposure to the virus and if your child is showing any symptoms, information should be shared with the other party and as applicable agree on an appropriate response. The Family Law Section further advised that it is important to try and engage openly and honestly with the other parent about your worries and if there has been a risk of exposure to the virus, be honest about that.

 

Watts McCray Lawyers continue to be able to advise our existing clients and any new clients experiencing family law issues by telephone and arrangements can also be put in place for video conferencing as appropriate. Please see our blog about the changes we have implemented: Watts McCray addresses the challenges of COVID-19.

If you are concerned about COVID- 19 and the impact on family law matters please get in touch.

 

If you would like to read the Statement from the Honourable William Alstergren, the full statement can be access here: