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What do we do about co-parenting and handovers during lockdown?

parent holding child's hand

On 20 July 2021, the South Australian government announced a 7-day lockdown for South Australia.

Lockdown restrictions in South Australia

During this lockdown, there are only 5 reasons why people in SA are allowed to leave their homes:

  1. To undertake essential work;
  2. To shop for essential goods and services;
  3. For medical reasons including COVID-19 vaccination and testing;
  4. To provide care and to receive care-giving;
  5. To exercise (with people in the same household. 

Co-parenting and handovers in SA lockdown

Today on ABC Radio Adelaide, the SA Police Commissioner confirmed that people can also leave home to handover children to comply with court orders, a parenting plan, or to follow usual co-parenting arrangements.

The following was confirmed:

  • If you have court orders or parenting plans, you must continue to follow the terms of those orders or agreements unless you have a reasonable excuse not to do so.
  • A reasonable excuse, for example, may include: concerns regarding the safety of a child or the need to follow SA Health directions such as directions to quarantine, obtain a COVID-19 test and/or to isolate. 

Listen to the interview here.

During our previous lockdown in March 2020, the Honourable Chief Justice William Alstergren issued a statement to all parties involved in Family Law matters. He encouraged them to actively communicate about their ability to comply with orders, and where possible, to find solutions to problems that may be present due to COVID-19. That solution should be child-focused and must put the children’s best interests first (s.60CC of the Family Law Act).

If parties cannot follow orders in the short term, they must ensure that the purpose of the orders is respected. This may involve maintaining a child’s relationship with their other parent through other forms of technology such as video conference calls, social media, telephone calls or text messages. Parents must be consistent and act in the child’s best interests until such time that the orders can be complied with again or varied to suit the new situation.

In summary, parents should continue to comply with court orders and arrangements. They must try to work through any problems or changes that arise due to the current circumstance and come up with an agreement with the other parent if it is safe for them and their child or children to do so.

If parties cannot reach an agreement regarding their child’s care arrangements, they should seek professional help to assist them in doing so. The Family Law Courts currently have a specific COVID-19 list for matters that need urgent attention due to situations created by or related to COVID.

Parents should also continue to check the SA Health and SA Government websites to ensure that they are up to date with any changes to the SA Health, SA Government and SAPOL COVID directions.

Andersons Solicitors is dedicated to supporting South Australia and their clients through this lockdown, with all staff members working remotely on existing matters and new enquiries.

Should you need legal assistance for any matters relating to Family Law, please don’t hesitate to contact our expert team.

Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to Australian Federal and South Australian legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.

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