As South Australia awakes to day one of Level 5 restrictions, many people with shared care arrangements in place for their children will be wondering if and how handovers will take place during this time.
Under the current directions, there are five main reasons to leave your home namely, undertaking essential work, shopping for essential goods and services, exercise, care and compassionate reasons and medical reasons.
The “care and compassionate reasons” exception to the stay-at-home direction covers a range of circumstances in which you may leave your home while the Level 5 restrictions are in place. This includes for the purpose of shared parenting arrangements, whether the arrangements are under a court order, parenting plan or private agreement.
In some situations changes may be required to the usual handover arrangements. This may be the case if, for example, handover ordinarily occurs at a child’s school but children are now learning remotely or if it occurs at a public place which is closed during the lockdown (like a shopping centre or library).
If changes are required, the Family Law Courts encourage parties to consider the situation sensibly and reasonably and to work together to find a practical solution. This is especially so where the lockdown is likely to be for a short period.
As long as it is safe to do so, parents should communicate with one another directly about whether any changes are required to the usual arrangements and what those changes may look like. Any agreed changes to existing arrangements should be recorded in writing, whether by email, text message or other means.
It is important that the children’s best interests and safety are at the forefront when considering any changes to care arrangements, including handovers, and that wherever possible children have the opportunity to continue their usual routines with minimal disruption. Of course, minimising the risk of infection across households and stopping the spread of the virus are also important considerations and as such any quarantine and testing directions due to potential exposure should be strictly adhered to.
If it is not possible to reach agreement with the other parent directly, a family lawyer will be able to negotiate on your behalf. If you require any assistance, contact the TGB Family Law team today.
Although our physical offices may be closed in South Australia at present, we are very much open for business and you can contact us on 8212 1077.
For the latest covid-19 information, we encourage you to visit the SA Government covid-19 website at https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/.