On 26 March 2020, the Chief Justice of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, Honourable Will Alstergen made it clear that parents are still expected to comply with Court orders in relation to parenting arrangements. However, in some circumstances non-compliance may be considered reasonable. For example, where the changeover of a child is to occur at a school or other public venue that is not currently accessible. His Honour recommends parents work together and come to a ‘practical solution’ that abides by government directions and provides a child focused solution considering both the safety and best interests of the child. You can find a link to the Federal Circuit Court’s website and His Honour’s media release at: http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/about/news/mr260320
Recently, the Chief Justice stated on ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly that parents cannot use COVID-19’ as an excuse to disobey court orders’. His Honour made it clear that there will be ‘ramifications for parents who don’t act reasonably’ in these circumstances. However, if parents cannot agree the courts are open and are hearing cases electronically to assist parents resolve their disputes.
The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia has published a top-10 guide for separated parents during COVID-19. We hope that parents find this guide useful during these challenging times. The link to the guide can be found here.
If you are uncertain about how COVID-19 impacts your current parenting orders, don’t delay. Our family law team are available to provide you with comprehensive legal advice regarding your specific circumstances. Please contact Kingsley Lawson Lawyers on 1800 96 00 96.