The Coronavirus Pandemic (“COVID-19) has raised many questions for separated families, particularly concerning their:
(a) Parenting arrangements; and
(b) Child support arrangements.
The Family Law team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers can answer all of your questions. Read on to find out more.
Many parents have documented or formalised their parenting arrangement by way of a parenting plan or parenting order.
The Court has made clear that during this time, parents should still act in the best interests of their children, be reasonable and try to communicate and comply with Orders, where safe to do so. Parents should try to come to practical solutions and keep the spirit of their parenting plan or order in mind when making new parenting arrangements. The Queensland Government has also confirmed that they are not restricting parents from leaving their houses to facilitate the children spending time with their other parent.
These are our tips to help you overcome the practical difficulties in your parenting arrangement:
A) IF YOUR EX LIVES INTERSTATE
if the children normally visit your ex interstate on weekends or holidays you and your ex may have to put such travel arrangements on hold. Instead, you could come to an arrangement whereby the children contact your ex more frequently by FaceTime, skype, telephone or text message.
B) TIME AT CONTACT CENTRES
You may have an arrangement that your ex sees the children at a contact centre, which may not currently be operating. Again, you could reach an agreement that the children contact your ex by other means more frequently, as mentioned above.
Pick-up and drop off location may be the children’s school. To ensure the safety of you and the children, you should consider choosing an alternative venue which minimises contact with other people, such as yours or your ex’s residence (if appropriate).
D) IF THE DAYCARES AND SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED
If the children’s daycare or school is closed you will have to discuss who will care for the children during the day. If one parent is working from home, it may be possible for them to look after the children.
E) HOW TO INTERPRET ORDERS – SCHOOL HOLIDAY TIME
You may wonder who your children are to spend time with if the school holidays are extended.
This will depend on how your Orders are drafted and if the Government says the school holidays have been extended or there are pupil free days, or it is the school term. If your Orders provided for 50/50 school holiday time and the school holidays are extended, then you would halve the overall school holiday period.
If you and your ex can reach an agreement for this period, you should document it in writing, even by way of email or text message. This may assist if there is any disagreement about the new arrangement in the future and if your matter is before the Court.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, contact McInnes Wilson Lawyers.
Despite COVID-19 children’s living, educational and other costs still need to be met. However, if your employment circumstances have changed such that you are no longer earning the same income or an income at all, you may not be able to afford to pay the same amount of child support as you previously have.
Even if you cannot afford to pay child support, take action and contact the Child Support Agency on 131 272 to you minimise the risk of you incurring debt.
You may have a child support agreement with your ex, such as a Limited or Binding Child Support Agreement. If so, you could discuss with your ex whether the terms of the agreement are suspended during this time. We can provide you with advice on your options.
WE CAN HELP:
If COVID-19 is impacting your parenting matter or you aren’t sure what to do next, the Family Law team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers is here to help. We can provide you with tailored advice to suit your circumstances during these unprecedented times. Contact us today for an obligation-free appointment.
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