COVID-19 and Parenting Orders

The current COVID-19 pandemic is having a profoundly detrimental effect on
the Australian community and families. The Family Law system is aware of this
and on 26 March 2020 the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit
Court of Australia published a Media Release – Statement from the Hon Will
Alstergren covering COVID-19’s impact on parenting orders. The Statement
addresses compliance with parenting orders by parents and carer’s in the face
of COVID-19.
Courts to Remain Open
Importantly, the Hon Will Alstergren stressed that the Family Court of Australia
and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia shall remain open to provide
assistance to parties.
General Guidance
The Hon Will Alstergren provided some general guidance to parents and carers
with respect to compliance with parenting orders and the Court’s expectations
with respect to this. By way of summary:

  1. Parents and carers acting in the best interests of their children is
  2. Compliance by parents and carers with Court orders regarding parenting
    arrangements is expected.
  3. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there may be circumstances in
    which stringent compliance with existing court orders is difficult or
  4. Where compliance with existing Court orders is difficult or impossible,
    parties should communicate compliance difficulties and consider
    sensibly and reasonably a practical solution.
  5. Where existing orders are varied by the parties, it is imperative that:
    a. In considering variations, the parties ensure that the spirit or
    purpose of the existing orders are respected; and
    b. the parties act in the best interests of the children.
  6. Any agreement reached about new parenting arrangements should be in
    writing, including via e-mail or text message correspondence.
  7. If consent orders have been drafted to set out new/varied parenting
    orders, consent order applications can be electronically filed.
  8. Where parties are unable to reach agreement with respect to varying
    the existing arrangement(s), they may seek a variation of the orders by
    approaching the Court electronically.
  9. Where there is no agreement:
    a. children should be kept safe until a resolution of the dispute can
    be achieved; and
    b. parents should make sure that each carer or parent continues to
    have contact with the child(ren) pursuant to the parenting
    10.Importantly, parents or cares must act reasonably at all times. Acting
    reasonably or having a reasonable excuse for non-compliance with Court
    orders is an issue that is considered by the Court in accordance with
    s70NAE of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
    The full Statement from the Hon Will Alstergren is accessible by
    clicking here.
    At RN Legal, we remain open and ready to assist our clients navigate their
    way through this challenging time. Instructions can be given via audio-visual
    means, telephone or, if necessary, a conference. The safety of our clients
    and staff is paramount.
    If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or
    advice, please contact us on 02 9191 9293 or email
    If you or your child are in any immediate danger, please telephone your
    local police department and, if required, seek medical assistance.