As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, separated parents are facing new challenges when it comes to parenting arrangements. With schools and childcare centres closing and government recommendations to stay home, many parents are unsure of what to do when it comes to their court-imposed parenting orders. In this article, we’ll explore how the pandemic has impacted parenting arrangements and what separated parents can do to navigate these uncertain times.
How Coronavirus COVID-19 Affects Separated Parents
The pandemic has created a number of issues that make it difficult for separated parents to comply with their court-imposed parenting orders. Some of these issues include:
- One parent is concerned about their child contracting the virus when spending time at the other parent’s home.
- There is no location for a changeover, such as school closures, and the parents do not feel comfortable facilitating a changeover at an empty school or their respective homes.
- One parent fails to discuss any medical treatment related to COVID-19 with the other parent.
- Travel restrictions may prevent a parent from traveling to the other parent’s location due to interstate travel bans or local lockdowns.
Understanding Parenting Orders
Parenting orders are legally enforceable court documents that provide a set of finite orders made by the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia regarding the parenting and care of a child or children after the separation or divorce of their parents. As a parent, it is your responsibility to comply with the order to ensure that your child’s best interests are being met.
What Happens If You Breach a Parenting Order?
If a breach of a parenting order occurs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the courts may make one of the following findings:
- The alleged contravention was not established.
- The contravention was established, but with a reasonable excuse.
- There was a less serious contravention, and without reasonable excuse.
- There was a more serious contravention, and without reasonable excuse.
It’s important to note that a defence to any contravention of a parenting order is whether there was a reasonable excuse for contravening the orders. At this time, it is unknown whether contraventions due to COVID-19 will amount to a reasonable excuse. Therefore, it is crucial that you seek legal advice to determine the best course of action.
Separated Parents Without Parenting Orders
Separated parents without parenting orders are also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to communicate with the other parent and work together to develop a parenting plan that prioritizes the safety and well-being of your child. If you are unable to reach an agreement, seeking the advice of a lawyer or mediator can help you come to a resolution.
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
With so many uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure that your rights, obligations, and responsibilities are met.
A competent and experienced lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, and provide you with the necessary guidance to navigate this challenging time.
In conclusion, navigating parenting orders during the COVID-19 pandemic is not an easy task. As separated parents, it’s essential to prioritize your child’s safety and well-being while complying with court-imposed parenting orders. Communication with the other parent is key to developing a mutually agreeable parenting plan that works for everyone. Seeking legal advice from an experienced lawyer can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to help you make informed decisions and navigate this uncertain time with confidence.
Remember, these are challenging times, and what matters most is how we treat each other and what we teach our children about how to manage during difficult times. Stay safe, and take care.