As the Lockdowns across New South Wales, and in particular the Hunter, continue we have seen a rise in disputes over how parents manage parenting arrangements, and decipher the competing Health directives.
Every case is different but the following provides some helpful links and tips for navigating parenting arrangements through this Pandemic.
Continuation of Parenting Arrangements
The Public Health Order (Delta Outbreak Restrictions) prohibits persons from leaving their home without a reasonable excuse.
Schedule 2 of the Health Order provides a list of Reasonable Excuses and in particular Clause 8 provides that a person may leave the person’s place of residence for family contact arrangements.
It should be noted that informal care arrangements will satisfy this excuse, and at this stage it is not necessary that the care arrangements be formal or in writing.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has released a very helpful Media Release by the Hon Will Alstergren about how disputes should be approached. Where Alstergren J states:
“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. This includes understanding that family members are important to children and the risk of infection to vulnerable members of the child’s family and household should also be considered.”
We have seen an increasing number of disputes in respect of management of isolation requirements for parties and children isolating while waiting for a test result or isolation following a notification of a close or casual contact.
At all times the best interests of children should be paramount and a sensible and practical approach is encouraged.
Your personal circumstances and the level of risk for parties and children needs to be considered on a case by case basis.
If a child is required to isolate for any reason and they are permitted to travel between two parents home provided that the isolation conditions are maintained across both homes. In most instances this will require both parents remaining in isolation for the entire isolation period even when the child is not in their care. For further information we recommend this NSW Government Factsheet.
If in doubt please contact one of our experienced family lawyers for further advice, and stay safe.