The COVID-19 pandemic is currently creating a great deal of uncertainty and confusion amongst separated families in Australia. With children out of school and out of routine, many separated parents are questioning how this pandemic will affect their parenting arrangements.
Disruption to Parenting Arrangements
It is inevitable that there will be some disruption in parenting arrangements for families during this time. Parents should ensure that they are complying with any orders or parenting agreements currently in place to the best of their ability. However, now more than ever, is a time for parents to be reasonable and exercise restraint in their communication with the other parent. Parents should take steps to ensure that they are taking a child focused approach to their parenting arrangements with a focus on limiting the anxiety felt by their children at this time.
Parents should avoid unfairly and unnecessarily restricting their children’s tie with the other parent. While this pandemic is having a significant impact on the everyday lives of Australians it should not wherever reasonably possible have a significant impact on the time children are spending with their parents.
We recommend that parents consider reaching an agreement in relation to the following:
If changeover is currently in a place which is no longer viable due to the closures of schools, public parks and restaurants, parents should consider an alternate option, for example, a grocery store may be more appropriate at this time as they remain open.
If parents are encouraged to keep their children home from school, parents should consider how this will be managed under the current care arrangements.
If children are due to travel these school holidays, parents should consider how this travel should occur. This is particularly relevant to those children who generally fly between their respective parents homes. In these circumstances, it may be more appropriate for the travel to occur via car.
If a parent or child becomes sick, then the guidelines imposed by the Australian Government must be followed. Quarantine should occur where the child is and parents should ensure that they communicate all concerns and information as soon as possible.
Contraventions of court orders should be avoided. In the event that a contravention occurs, the Court will consider your actions and whether there was a reasonable excuse for contravening a parenting order.
If you require assistance in determining the best approach to managing your parenting arrangement during the current pandemic, we encourage you to make an appointment to obtain legal advice. Our office remains open and prepared to assist you. Contact our office to arrange a phone or ZOOM video conference appointment with one of our solicitors should you require assistance or advice.