Families subject to Parenting Orders are facing significant disruptions in Greater Sydney as a result of stay-at-home orders, particularly where travel restrictions limit access to public meeting points and disrupt the school term.
Do Family Court Orders still apply during the stay-at-home orders?
Family Court orders continue to be in force and remain legally binding on parents, even during a global pandemic and stay at home orders.
Leaving home to comply with Family Court Orders, such as to collect or drop off children to fulfil parenting arrangements constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave home under the Public Health Orders. The stay-at-home orders provide:
For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings – continuing existing arrangements for access to a contact between, parents and children or siblings” (Paragraph 10 – Schedule 1 of Public Health (COVID-19 Greater Sydney) Order (No 2) 2021 [NSW].
It is clear travelling for shared parenting arrangements is permitted, however, if you are located within one of the hotspots you will be required to follow government guidelines and obtain a negative COVID test prior to travelling outside the Sydney region.
What arrangements are available in the event a parent is required to self-isolate?
Parents are required to act in the best interests of the child, by protecting them from harm and ensuring meaningful relationships between both parents. In the event one parent has been instructed to isolate pending COVID-19 test results, both parents should endeavour to develop safe alternatives for the child. This may include scheduling “make up time” once the affected parent has received negative test results and maintaining contact over FaceTime or telephone. Parents should endeavour to find alternate arrangements that are sensible and reasonable to ensure compliance with Family Court Orders.
Parents may not use restrictions or unnecessarily restrict access to their child from the other parent. However, in the event the child is exposed to COVID, a Court may find that a parent had a reasonable excuse for contravening existing parenting orders. If you have concerns about restricted access to your child, please contact us for assistance.
Is your ex-partner refusing to share care for your child resulting from COVID concerns?
If your ex-partner is refusing to share care for your child resulting from COVID concerns, and refuses to negotiate alternate arrangements sensibly and reasonably, Freedman & Gopalan can assist you in mediating a solution. In the event this is not possible, we can further assist you in making an urgent application seeking parenting orders.
If you are concerned about compliance with Family Law Orders under the current stay at home orders, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700.