The Best Interests of the Child and COVID-19

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Are you facing problems related to parenting or court orders during the COVID-19 pandemic?

 As Australia’s laws continue to change and evolve, many separated parents face growing confusion, particularly regarding parenting orders and the transition of children across households. Quarantine, travel restrictions, and school opening/closing may have an impact on your child.

 What should you do if you are unable to comply with parenting arrangements?

How Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Parenting Issues?

Australian parents need to be aware of three important issues:

  • Everybody must follow laws and health guidelines.
  • Parents must follow court orders unless there is a legitimate excuse that prevents you from following them.
  • The government encourages separated parents to work with each other to act in a manner that is in the child’s best interests. Parents may also wish to engage the services of a third party (like a family dispute resolution practitioner) in order to find a practical solution.

We encourage parents to regularly keep up with the news and updates provided by the government on TV and the Internet. It may also be advisable to carry a copy of the Family Court Orders with them while transitioning children across homes.

Parenting Arrangements During COVID

At times, it may be challenging to comply with existing court orders due to logistics or other difficulties (such as loss of income). If either parent wishes to amend the current orders, they must put it in writing. The government of Australia strongly urges parents to prioritise the health and well-being of their children.

For example, if parents feel that their children are displaying flu-like symptoms, they may be under the impression that the child has contracted the Coronavirus. If you observe that your child is coughing, sneezing or running a fever, please get them checked by your GP first. It does not necessarily follow that your child has the Coronavirus; the symptoms could indicate a normal flu.

During this time of crisis, the Courts have assured the Australian community of their full support.

In What Ways Has the COVID-19 Impacted Parenting Orders?

The Family Court of Australia is well aware that there could be situations where compliance may be difficult if not impossible. Accordingly, the Chief Justice of Family Courts has reiterated that:

  • Existing Parenting Orders must be followed and any alternate arrangements must be mutually acceptable
  • All arrangements must be in the best interests of the child
  • In case, Parenting Orders have to be altered under the circumstances, the other parent should ensure that they remain in contact with the child through video conferencing, calls or social media
  • Parents must ensure that children follow all social distancing rules and are kept as safe as possible

In case parenting arrangements become confusing or cannot be met, respect the spirit of the parenting orders and give the other party adequate time to plan and adjust.

If the COVID-19 has impacted your parenting arrangements and you need help, please do not hesitate to call Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780 for specialist advice. We are happy to guide our esteemed clients by phone or video conferencing as well.


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