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Coronavirus outbreak poses dilemma for parents with shared custody wanting to protect children

By Rhiannon Shine

With people being encouraged to observe social distancing and isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, family lawyers are being asked how best to manage shared custody arrangements.

Legal Aid NSW family law director Kylie Beckhouse said common questions included whether people needed to comply with court orders during the pandemic and how to manage changeovers if schools were to close.

She said people would still need to comply with court orders.

“Talk to the other party, and if you cannot talk to them, try and communicate via a third party to work out a sensible resolution,” Ms Beckhouse said.

“These are really stressful, unusual times and children are under enormous stress, and the best thing people can do right now is keep things as conflict-free as possible.

“Try and work it out with each other, or if they can’t work it out with each other, use a third party or a mediator.”

Family lawyer Rebecca Bunney said people might feel torn between breaching parenting orders and wanting to limit their children’s movements.

She said parents should try to have a combined approach to keeping the children away from crowds and older people.

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