We are living in an unprecedented time and COVID-19 is impacting all of our daily lives. There is added stress and anxiety for separated parents as they try to navigate co-parenting arrangements during the current restrictions imposed on us that are changing almost daily.
The Family Court has urged parents to act “sensible and reasonably” during this time of crisis. The Chief Justice of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court has stated that it may be difficult, if not impossible, for some parents to comply with Court Orders due to the current restrictions imposed. However, this does not mean parents will be given a “free pass” to breach Court Orders.
Some examples include, if a parent lives interstate, changeover will be almost impossible due to the states and territories closing their borders, parents will be unable to attend supervised contact at a contact centre due to social distancing rules and changeovers that usually occur at a children’s school will be difficult. Of even more significance though, is the health risk to parents and children if a parent and/or child is self-isolating due to potential exposure to coronavirus. This will mean the child will be unable to move between households.
What can you do?
Try and find a practical solution to any problems that arise by acting sensibly and reasonably. Remember to consider the safety and best interests of your child whilst also being mindful of the other parent’s position and the importance of your child maintaining a relationship with their other parent.
The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia have published a “Top Ten Guide for Separated Parents during COVID-19” that has been very helpful to our clients. We are able to provide you with a copy of this.
What are the Courts doing?
Currently, the Courts are still open and have implemented social-distancing procedures including the electronic filing of documents and appearances by telephone or video link. The Court is only allowing personal attendance if there are special circumstances that require it.
Most mediation services remain open and can be conducted through telephone or video conferencing. The Court is encouraging parties to attend mediation where possible to reduce the back log in the Courts.
What are we doing?
Here at East Coast Family Lawyers, we are all working remotely and remain open for business as usual. We are here to answer any questions you have by telephone and email. We are also conduct a video conference with you via Skype or Zoom if you prefer face to face contact.
If you have any questions about your family law matter or need advice on the impact of COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 4322 0251 or by email at [email protected] to speak with one of our solicitors.