Updated: Sep 15, 2020
The Impact of the COVID Pandemic on Parenting Orders, Parenting Plans and Children spending time with their Parents
A common question that we have be getting asked by clients recently is how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their parenting orders and their ability to spend time with their children.
The Family Court has been quite clear in recent months that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, parents should generally ensure that children spend time with each parent in accordance with existing Court Orders, Parenting Plans and other arrangements. Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 says that the Court needs to primarily focus on what is in the best interest of the children. Most of the time it is in the best interests of the children to follow existing Parenting Plans despite the pandemic.
However, it is important to note that in some exceptional circumstances, this is not the case. The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have each established a COVID-19 list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, issues relating to supervised contact, if current parenting arrangements require contact time to be supervised but the contact centre is closed, or the supervisor cannot facilitate visits. It is important to note that there is a strict criterion that must be satisfied in order for a matter to be heard in the COVID-19 List. Therefore, do not take this to be legal advice. It would be appropriate that you speak to our office to clarify what you should do in your particular set of circumstances.
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