Your selected location:
6 Apr 2020

HHG Legal Group’s Family & De Facto Law team’s Stewart Kattowitz provides clarity around the regionals and intrastate travel bans and parental orders and arrangements. [First published 30 March 2020, updated on 9 April 2020]

20200406 Family IA

The circumstances surrounding the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are evolving daily. The different State, Territory, and Federal Governments are actively co-ordinating their efforts to address this pandemic on each level of government.

 

The circumstances surrounding the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are evolving daily. The different State, Territory, and Federal Governments are actively coordinating their efforts to address this pandemic on each level of government.

Your Family Court Orders and compliance

Separated parents traversing this pandemic are exposed to various kinds of stressors in addition to navigating through the family law landscape.

The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, which is the peak-body for family lawyers, outlined its top ten suggestions for separating parents. Click here to download the ‘Top Ten Guide for Separated Parents during COVID-19’.

It is understandable that separated parents are confused about complying with their parenting arrangements when governments are calling for various measures to combat COVID-19, which includes social distancing – meaning, amongst other things, staying at home unless going outside is necessary and keeping visitors to a minimum.

Separated parents are still being encouraged to comply with their Family Court Orders or agreement unless a reasonable excuse applies to your circumstances. Failing to comply with regulated arrangements may result in a breach and permit a party to bring a contravention application. We cannot foresee how the Family Court will address a party’s failure to comply with regulated arrangements in the context of COVID-19. It is likely that each case will be assessed on its own facts. The party resisting compliance must be prepared to provide evidence to support their course of action.

Regional travel prohibitions

The West Australian government made a regional travel prohibition direction (“The Regional Travel Prohibition Direction”) on 31 March 2020 prohibiting a person from entering a region from another region, unless any one or more of the exceptions apply.

The regional travel prohibition caters for separated parents. The exception states that:

A person must not enter a region from another region to the extent that:

(g)   it is necessary for the person to do so for the purpose of fulfilling their obligations under
a parenting plan, parenting order of a court or another parenting arrangement…

The regions within Western Australia are vast and the Regional Travel Prohibition Direction clearly identifies those regions[1] within the context of the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA).

A series of further region-specific[2] prohibitions directions have also been made. Some of these region-specific prohibitions echo the exception for separated parents as contained in the Regional Travel Prohibition Direction, but not all the region-specific prohibitions cater for separated parents.

[1] Paragraphs 11 and 12 of the Regional Travel Prohibition Direction made on 31 March 2020

[2] Goldfields-Esperance (Local Government District Travel Restrictions) made on 5 April 2020,    Prohibition on Travel Between Local Government Districts in the Kimberley Directions made on 2 April 2020, and Remote Aboriginal Communities Direction (no 2) made on 20 March 2020.

Western Australia’s hard border closure

On 5 April 2020 the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Direction (“Hard Border Direction”). It strictly states that a person must not enter Western Australia unless the person in an exempt traveller.[1]

Unlike the Regional Travel Prohibition Direction that specifically caters for separated parents with targeted language, the Hard Border Direction is not so clear. The Hard Border Direction does not make specific mention of an exemption that is applicable to a person who is “fulfilling their obligations under a parenting plan, parenting order of a court or another parenting arrangement”.

There appears to be some limited scope for those separated parents who have Family Court Orders about their parenting matters. A person may be granted exempt traveller status if that person is required to give or effect an order of an Australian court. However, the person who is granted the exempt traveller status may still be subject to such further terms or conditions as directed on arrival. Also, a person may be granted exempt traveller status on compassionate grounds, but the conditions to satisfy compassionate grounds are not entirely clear.

Additionally, there are specific provisions contained in the Hard Border Direction dealing with unaccompanied minors, who enter Western Australia and their parents. However, these provisions are unlikely to be relied on as a gateway to facilitate or enable the continuation of any form of parenting arrangement.

[1] Paragraph 27 of the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Direction made on 5 April 2020.

To further complicate matters, it seems that before travelling to Western Australia each and every person must complete and lodge the ‘Request for Approval as an Exempt Traveller Form’ together with any supporting information and evidence well before departing for Western Australia.

It is hard to predict how children will have any continuity with the parent, whom resides in Western Australia, what those children ordinarily reside  outside of this State.

What does this all mean?

To that end, sometimes strict adherence to the parenting arrangements may not feasible, but the purpose and spirit of the arrangements must still be acknowledged. Parties should be guided by the underlying principle that a child’s best interests are paramount, and these largely encompasses the care, welfare, and development of that child.

Adapting to the changing climate

A series of changes will likely be necessary now and in the near future. It is likely that revised arrangements will be necessary for the interim.

We have identified the following five areas where difficulties will arise:

  1. location for handovers (pick-ups and drop-offs);
  2. engagement with or continuing engagement with child supervision agencies;
  3. movement between households (incl. minimising contact with at-risk persons);
  4. defining the parameters for school holidays; and
  5. intrastate, interstate, or overseas travel.

We encourage separated parents to act reasonably and avoid giving in to their emotions. Communication between parents, their children, and others will be key.

Now is the time to work together. We are encouraging separated parents to consider sensible and practical solutions where necessary.

HHG Legal Group can assist

For over 100 years HHG Legal Group has been proudly serving Western Australian families, business and individuals. Never before has the State seen such a crippling time for many small businesses and individuals and we are committed to supporting the communities in which we operate.

If you require legal advice or representation relating to your parental orders or any other family or de facto law matter, we are offering unprecedented fees for initial consultations (video, phone or safely-spaced, face-to-face) which can be booked via our online enquiry form or by calling 1800 609 945.

 

 

 

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australian's for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at McKinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Anne Hurley. She helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Anne"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO AltusQ Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Anne."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Legal Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

Select your location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.