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In recent days and weeks various restrictions have been placed on the public by the Federal and State Governments with respect to social distancing and general movements beyond the family home.

These new restrictions can be confusing for parents currently engaged in family law proceedings or parents navigating shared care arrangements for their children with a parent or person in another household.

You can find the most recent direction to parents from Chief Justice William Alstergren of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

According to Chief Justice Alstergren it is important for parents to continue to act in the best interests of their children and to comply with any court orders regarding shared care arrangements, wherever it is safe and practicable to do so.

Where parents are required to alter arrangements because of the closure of a changeover venue, border closures or any other situation which may arise in these unchartered times, parents should try to communicate where it is safe to do so and come to a practical solution, in writing if possible.

The recent Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 released on 30 March 2020 further clarified the scope for parents to take children between more than one residence, for the purpose of facilitating shared care arrangements.

Schedule 1 of the Public Health Order confirms that a reasonable excuse for leaving a persons place of residence includes:

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, and contact between, parents and children or siblings.”

If you are having difficulties navigating the new restrictions in these challenging and confusing times, our experienced family law team is available to provide you with guidance and support.

This article was co-authored by Law Cadet Taylah Jensen.


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