Article written by Nardine Collier
Family Lawyer Cairns & Alice Springs
In times of crisis, parents need to work together. This means, making proper arrangements for children in the event of a lockdown situation. The information we are currently receiving is that it is business as usual in relation to court orders and parenting arrangements. In other words, parents should follow existing arrangements and in particular court orders, as best they can. Parents are encouraged to adopt a common-sense approach. As to what is a common sense approach, appears to differ between parents, and this is where disputes are arising.
We think that the best common-sense approach is for the primary carer to retain the children during a lockdown and be willing to offer make up time to the other parent, along with extra phone calls and/or Skype and Facebook communication. This of course depends upon each parent’s situation, the safety of the home and their ability to provide care for children during a lockdown. This is why we suggest the primary carer would normally be best placed to care for children over a two-week period, if children are in their care mostly in any event.
This does not mean the other parent could not take the children for two weeks, but it is most definitely a case by case basis.
For parents who share care, perhaps the common sense approach is that the children stay where they would normally be pursuant to court orders in the event of a lock down, with make-up time to occur at the end of the period.
There will inevitably be breaches of court orders during this period, but we doubt the court is going to be much interested in a flood of Contravention applications as a result. For this reason, we encourage our clients to try and reach an agreement about what might happen in the event of a lockdown, because if there is one- it will only be at short notice.
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Nardine Collier is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and has been mediating Family Law disputes for over 25 years. She is a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, a Family Law Arbitrator, a panel Mediator for various Australia wide organisations and for courts and tribunals. Nardine regularly mediates at Legal Aid conferences in Family Law, in Cairns and Alice Springs. She is also the Cairns Representative of the Queensland Chapter of the Resolution Institute of Australia.