The team at Matthew Mitchell Solicitors have been flooded with queries as to whether Parenting Orders made under the Family Law Act need to be, or should be, complied with in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. As is often the case in the law, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer.
The Family Law Act 1975 makes it clear that parents and carers are to act in the best interests of their children. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, parents keeping their children healthy and safe. Parents are also obligated to comply with Orders of the Court that relate to the living arrangements and time spending arrangements for children. However, compliance with Orders of the Court that relate to living arrangements and time spending arrangements will be increasingly difficult as further social restrictions are implemented by the Australian Government.
As social restrictions tighten, following your Court Order to the letter may no longer be physically possible. For example, State borders may be closed, a particular handover location may be shut, a location for time spending such as a playground, play café or a Children’s Contact Service may no longer be operational, limiting your capacity to comply with your Orders. There is also the possibility of genuine safety concerns if a parent, or someone that parent is in regular contact with, has been exposed to COVID-19, which leads to the question of how are parents to facilitate the safe movement of a child between households in those circumstances.
It should also be noted that if you, another parent, or someone who is in regular contact with your child, displays flu like symptoms or has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, then there should be compliance with the Australian Government’s policy in respect of self-isolation and medical advice should be sought.
As always, each person’s situation is unique, and we recommend that you seek legal advice before departing from a Court Order.
If you think your child is in immediate danger contact your local police and if required seek medical advice.
As always, the legal team at Matthew Mitchell Solicitors are here to help should you require it.
We wish you well and good health in this current climate.
Matthew Mitchell Solicitors.