The Chief Justice of the Family Court has issued a comprehensive and helpful bulletin on parenting orders and the Coronavirus.
A key point in the bulletin is His Honour’s call that:
As a first step, and only if it is safe to do so, parties should communicate with each other about their ability to comply with current orders and they should attempt to find a practical solution to these difficulties. These should be considered sensibly and reasonably. Each parent should always consider the safety and best interests of the child, but also appreciate the concerns of the other parent when attempting to reach new or revised arrangements.
His Honour notes that the Courts remain open to assist parties and to provide parents with general guidance. The Family Court’s general Coronavirus arrangements are available on the Court’s website and are being regularly updated.
The most important point regarding Coronavirus and parenting arrangements is that the best interests of the children remains the paramount consideration: s 60CA Family Law Act 1975.
In accordance with their obligations to act in their children’s best interests, parents and carers are expected to comply with Court orders in relation to parenting arrangements, notwithstanding the ‘highly unusual’ current circumstances. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders. This is where sense and reason need to be applied by the parties, and where lawyers can play a critical role.
For more information about parenting orders and the Coronavirus, including what the parties should consider and what the Court will consider when making orders, see the commentary on parenting orders in the By Lawyers Family Law – Children Guide.