COVID-19 – RESTRICTIONS ON MOVEMENT AND CHANGEOVER OF CHILDREN IN NEW SOUTH WALES

“Do I have to conduct changeover in a pandemic?

My ex is refusing to let me see my children because of coronavirus.”

On 30 March 2020, the New South Wales State Government issued Government Gazette Number 65, setting out the public health restrictions on gatherings and movement as a result of Covid-19.

The Gazette restricts people from leaving their place of residence without a reasonable excuse.  Of the 16 reasonable excuses listed in Schedule 1 of the Gazette, reasonable excuse number 13 is relevant for parenting matters involving children moving between one or more households.

Point 13 provides as follows:

  1. For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings – continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings.

McLachlan Thorpe Partners has received multiple enquiries about whether parents are required to comply with Court Orders or pre-existing parenting arrangements in light of the current pandemic’s restrictions on movement.  We have also received several reports of parent’s using the current restrictions as a reason not to continue pre-existing parenting arrangements, or as an excuse to prevent time occurring with the non-resident parent.

This Gazette emphasises the fact that the restrictions on movement in NSW do not apply to children living across multiple households, and that people are allowed to leave their residences to continue pre-existing arrangements for access to and contact between parents, children and siblings.

Although each case must be looked at individually, the Gazette suggests that in the absence of medical advice to the contrary, children should continue to move between their parent’s households to enable them to maintain contact with both parents and any siblings.

The complete Gazette is available at: https://gazette.legislation.nsw.gov.au/so/download.w3p?id=Gazette_2020_2020-65.pdf

If you require further assistance, please contact:

Vicki Kelly, Accredited Family Law Specialist, vkelly@mtpartners.com.au

Emma Shuttleworth, eshuttleworth@mtpartners.com.au

Disclaimer:  This article is intended to provide general information only, and is not to be regarded as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in relation to particular transactions or circumstances.

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