John Lewis

A Guide to Parenting Orders during Covid

The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant uncertainty and stress for parents trying to comply with parenting arrangements and Court orders. This is a particularly challenging and complicated issue for parents and/or children who live interstate.

Important tips

The following four points are important for parents to consider:

  1. If there are Court orders in place, you MUST continue to follow them unless you have a reasonable excuse not to or if doing so would place the child at risk;
  2. Everyone MUST follow laws and public health guidelines;
  3. Despite current restrictions, in most cases shared parenting arrangements should continue to take place; and
  4. You should attempt to work through any changes with the other parent and reach an agreement that is a safe option for you and the children.

If you have Court orders for parenting, or a parenting plan in place, you should follow them unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to.

What is a reasonable excuse?

A reasonable excuse could include a health professional directing you and the children to go into isolation or quarantine, or travel being banned.

If you are quarantining or isolating with children, you need to ensure the other parent can communicate with the children by other means including telephone, Facetime or video chat. Try to work out how the other parent can have make-up time once you are out of isolation or quarantine.

If you fail to follow parenting orders and do not have a reasonable excuse, the other parent can take court action. The court can make orders, such as make-up time, and impose penalties on the parent who is not complying. This is dependent on the level of seriousness of the breach.

In Conclusion

Finally, during the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to work cooperatively with the other parent and establish positive co-parenting arrangements –  it is not an opportunity for a parent to exploit the situation and make it difficult for the other parent to spend time with the child.  Importantly, parents need to ensure that they act in the bests interests of the child at all times.

Speak to one of our experienced Family Lawyers to help you navigate these challenging times.