Stay at home directives and the exceptions for parenting arrangements
In response to COVID-19, the Victorian Government has issued a "Stay at Home Direction" which requires Victorians to stay at home other than in specified circumstances. One such circumstance is to meet any parenting obligations in shared parenting agreements.
This is the case whether the arrangement has been made under a court order or has been made informally.
One aspect of this direction is that people stay in the place where they ordinarily reside. Importantly, where shared parenting arrangements are in place with respect to a child or children, they will be considered to be a member of each parent's premises for the time the child stays with them.
It may be the case however that strict compliance with parenting agreements is not possible; for example, if "handover" arrangements usually occur at a school or public place that is now closed, or in circumstances where a parent is to spend time with a child other than at home.
If a supervisor is required for compliance with a parenting order, health requirements which limit the number of people at gatherings does not prevent supervision from occurring, however the location for which that time is to occur may need to be varied if time normally occurs in a public place.
Where parenting arrangements cannot be strictly complied with, parents are encouraged to work together to come up with a practical solution so that parenting agreements can still be complied with. The Family Court and Federal Court have issued a statement that suggests any short term adjustments or arrangements should be put in writing, even if this is only via text message or an appropriate parenting app.
The Stay at Home Direction is currently valid until midnight on 13 April 2020 and at this stage will be in force over the Easter weekend.
Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.
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