Parents are understandably concerned about the safety of their children and how the COVID-19 virus will affect their lives. Having shared-parenting arrangements can also add layers of complexity to what is already an incredibly difficult time.
Consistent with a parent’s or carer’s responsibilities to act in the children’s best interests, parents and carers are still expected to comply with Court orders in relation to shared-parenting arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders.
Some Australian States and Territories have applied restrictions on residents who are travelling across State and Territory borders in response to the Government’s protocols for non-essential travel. Some of the restrictions also involve strict quarantine requirements.
These border restrictions may affect families that have court orders in place that involve shared-parenting arrangements that require children to move from one household to another, across State borders.
These border arrangements are primarily a matter for each State or Territory government, and unfortunately, there is currently no national approach to how parents should deal with this situation.
The Courts strongly advise that families seek advice from the relevant State and Territory authorities about how the border restrictions and quarantine requirements may impact them and their circumstances. For example, there may be exemptions that enable families with court orders in place, to travel across State or Territory borders. Parents and carers should check their relevant State or Territory website for information or updates prior to engaging in any travel or contact their lawyer.
When crossing State or Territory borders parents or carers may be required to provide the appropriate court order, as evidence of essential movement, to border control personnel. Parents and carers should ensure that they also carry current photo identification and ideally, a hardcopy of the appropriate court order, or at least, an electronic copy or photo of the court orders.
The Courts have published general information on their websites that may be of assistance to parents and carers. This information is updated as new information is provided.
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