April 24, 2023

New legislation and freedom of movement restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically changed how we live our lives in a relatively short period of time.

These strange and uncertain times can be especially challenging for separated parents trying to navigate the family law process and understand how these restrictions impact their ability to comply with existing Parenting Orders in a safe manner.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have issued a statement  providing parents with guidance and assurance that the Courts are acutely aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on families.

The statement highlights that:

  • Courts will remain open and will primarily conduct hearings via videoconferencing or by telephone;

  • Parents and carers must continue to act in the best interests of their children;

  • Parents and carers are expected to comply with Court orders in relation to parenting arrangements, provided it is safe to do so.

There are some common situations which have arisen as a result of COVID-19 making strict compliance with existing Court orders difficult. These include:

  • Where a changeover location has been closed;

  • Where the travel distance is considered ‘too far’ or cross-border; and

  • Where there are genuine safety issues whereby a parent or someone in close contact with a parent has been exposed to COVID-19, which can restrict the safe movement of a child from one house to another.