The Effect of COVID-19 on Parenting Matters

Article 12 May 2020

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court ("the Courts") have been monitoring the Government’s announcements and advice concerning COVID -19 pandemic and how to manage it, including the evolving social distancing restrictions.

We are aware that the current climate may not necessarily fit with existing parenting arrangements and/or comply with the current Government restrictions in accordance with a written agreement (i.e. a Parenting Plan or a Parenting Consent Order) or a Parenting Court Order (whether interim or final, in contesting parenting court proceedings).

This has left many parents feeling worried and confused about what the COVID-19 restrictions mean for their children and any parenting arrangements they have in place.

From the onset, there are three important things you need to know:

  1. If you have court orders, you must continue to follow them unless you have a reasonable excuse not to.
  2. Everyone must follow laws and public health guidelines.
  3. You should try to work through any changes with the other parent and reach an agreement, if it is safe for you and the children.

At CDQ, we have been closely following the recommendations regarding the Courts’ response to COVID-19, which are underpinned by the need to ensure the health and safety of all involved and maintaining access to justice to parents and others involved.

If your parenting arrangements have been impacted, particularly if you have orders in place, it is important that you are able to negotiate an alternate arrangement.

We can assist you in achieving an outcome that works for all parties involved. 

With any parenting matter, flexibility under the current circumstances is going to be important. For example, when children are unable to attend school, arrangements have to be made as to where they will be home-schooled or spend their time.

If you are not able to directly negotiate with the other parent, we would encourage you to seek legal advice as to what your rights are in these circumstances.

As of Wednesday 29 April 2020, the courts have each established a court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We can advise you as to whether you meet the criteria for the COVID-19 list.

The current circumstances are unprecedented and a scenario that we haven’t experienced before - therefore it is particularly important to obtain legal advice concerning your rights and obligations.

For more information on how CDQ can assist you, please contact us on ph: 8566 2400