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NOTICE ALERT IN LIGHT OF COVID-19

WHAT WE PROPOSE AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST

At Watson & Watson our clients come first. Please be assured of our continued dedicated services to all current and new clients.

As we have done in the past, we will continue to offer alternative conferencing methods ie video conferencing, skype or telephone conferences. Reviewing of all documentation provided to us prior to any initial conference will be all inclusive of our set fee. Do not hesitate to contact Shereen Da Gloria on (02) 9221 6011 should you have any concerns.

Parenting Orders in times of Coronavirus – What if I Cannot Obey a Parenting Order?

08/06/2020

The current Coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic and immediate effect on our way of life.  Many people have in place parenting arrangements which may not be able to proceed and may make compliance with Court Order difficult or impossible to be carried out as they previously had.  The new reality with Court Orders: When a Parenting Order has been made each person affected by the Order must comply with the Order.  If the Orders are not being complied you should seek legal advice.

Issues are arising daily.  What should you do?

  • Changeover needs to take place in public or after school and where this cannot occur due to the national lockdown. 
  • The lockdown requires parents and households to stay indoors.  Do you still have to send the children to their other parent?
  • Will I get into trouble with the Court if I do not send the children?
  • Will I get into trouble for breaching Court Orders?
  • How should I act reasonably in these circumstances?

The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia has prepared a guide for separated parents and a copy of that report is referenced in this article. 

Contravention of Parenting Orders

In normal times if there was a contravention, a person may seek legal advice, attend a family dispute resolution centre or apply to the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court for a change of the orders to accommodate the practical difficulties in implementing the Orders or apply to change the Orders to deal with the changed circumstances.  Watson & Watson are able to provide advice as to how to deal with these issues and can provide that advice by telephone or Skype conferencing. 

A person contravenes an Order if he or she:

  1. Intentionally fails to comply with the Orders, or
  2. Makes no reasonable attempt to comply with the Order, or
  3. Intentionally prevents compliance with the Order by a person who is bound by it, or
  4. Aids and abets a contravention of the Order by a person who is bound by it.

What is a reasonable attempt to comply?

When a Parenting Order is made each person affected by the Order must comply with the Order and this includes taking all reasonable steps for example, making sure that if an Order requires a child to spend time with the other parent that the child does spend time with the other parent.

What is a reasonable excuse?

If the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court finds that a person has failed to comply with an Order, the Court will also determine whether or not in the circumstances, the person had a reasonable excuse for the contravention of the Order.  Reasonable excuses might be established if:

  • A person did not understand the obligations imposed by the Order, or
  • The person reasonably believed that the actions constituting the contravention were necessary to protect the health and safety of a person including the person who contravened the order or the child, and
  • The contravention did not last longer than was necessary to protect the health and safety of the person who contravened the order.

Penalties can be imposed for failing to comply with a Parenting Order and those penalties can include:

  • Varying the Court’s Orders.
  • Order attendance at a post separation parenting program.
  • Make an order for makeup time.
  • Require the contravener to enter into a bond to be of good behaviour.
  • Cost Order.
  • Order for payment of compensation.
  • Community Service Order – fine – imprisonment. 

At Watson & Watson our experienced Family Lawyers can assist you in relation to parenting orders and contact issues whether you are intending to seek parenting orders for your child/children or the other parent of your child/children is in breach of parenting orders.  Please do not hesitate to contact Richard Watson Senior Family Lawyer or Shereen Da Gloria his Personal Assistant to discuss your matter and seek advice sooner rather than later.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 9221 6011.

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