With governments taking a strong position in limiting the spread of the Covid-19 virus, questions arise surrounding the practical difficulties with implementing family law parenting arrangements. So, what do you do if you find yourself in such a position?
It is already well established that, from a developmental perspective, children in separated families are far better adjusted when they see their parents amicably discussing their care arrangements and reach an agreement without engaging in conflictual exchanges.
In circumstances such as what we are now facing, there is an increased responsibility and opportunity for separated parents to show their children that their parents are able to come together and amicably reach a decision on the best course of action to be taken in an emergency.
Conversely, if that is simply not possible in your circumstances, for whatever reason, there are a few practical notes that separated parents should be aware of.
Recently, the Queensland Parliament has announced that its borders are now closed with exceptions, including parents travelling across the border to attend changeovers as per court orders.
This will mean that unless both parents agree to vary their parenting orders, those arrangements are to remain in place unless you are given a written health direction to self-isolate for 14 days.
In the event that you do travel for the purposes of changeovers, please ensure that you do have a sealed copy of your current parenting orders with you, as police patrolling the border may require production of those orders in order to allow you to pass through.
Travel Within Queensland
Similarly, travelling within Queensland will remain permissible in circumstances where you have obtained court orders in relation to whom your child or children live and spend time with.
Whether there are orders for changeover locations or not, if you are travelling to attend changeovers it may be worth considering whether a change of venue would be ideal, in order to avoid exposure to the virus.
Travelling for the purposes of changeovers, even if permitted by way of a court order, will still be prohibited if you or the other parent are given a health direction to self-isolate for 14 days. Once given that direction it is not advisable to participate in changeovers.
Rather, if any self-isolation period imposed on you or the other parent impacts time that your child would ordinarily spend with you as per court orders, the appropriate response would be to request make-up time with the child after the self-isolation period concludes.
In these ever-increasing uncertain times, it is imperative to remain conscious of the fact that if there are current family or federal circuit court orders in relation to parenting arrangements for your children, those Orders remain enforceable until a further order is made.
Accordingly, unless there has been a written health direction given to you by a medical professional to self-isolate with your children, those parenting orders must be complied with.
As always, an important aspect of family law parenting orders is that they are generally drafted in terms that permit alteration of those arrangements by consent between both parents. Accordingly, if both parents agree, alternative temporary arrangements may be implemented to accommodate changes in the landscape with schooling, medical issues connected with the virus and employment.
Once again, we urge everyone to band together where they can in order to appropriately respond to the impacts on everyone’s life these new challenges are having. If you or your family consider that you may need professional assistance with your family law matters during this time, call us now on (07) 3209 7000 to discuss your situation with one of our expert family lawyers.
Disclaimer: This publication is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute legal advice. We are unable to ensure the information is current and there is no guarantee in relation to accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content of this publication. The views and/or opinions expressed in this publication is that of the author and may not necessarily represent the views and/or opinions of RHC Solicitors.
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