What are the rules for child custody, care and access during COVID stay-at-home lockdown orders?
A state-by-state round up of the current rules surrounding shared parenting access during lockdown and state border closures
By Jason Bryce
A Sydney man, aged just 20 years old, died this week from COVID-19, underlining how serious this disease can be. Last week a Sydney woman aged in her thirties, with no other underlying health conditions, was killed by COVID.
So as a general rule-of-thumb, the less travelling around the community we do, the better. But fathers want to see their kids and mums want to know what the rules are around lockdowns and child access. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions vary according to the state, but they are all similar.
State – by – state COVID-19 restrictions
Links to all Australian state and territory government coronavirus restrictions and stay-at-home order information pages are listed at the end of this article.
In short, NSW is still reporting over 200 new cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 per day and Premier Gladys Berejiklian says numbers have likely not peaked yet. Sydney’s south-west is likely to remain under stay-at-home orders for another month. Other areas of Sydney and NSW are likely to enter lockdown as well.
Victorian restrictions have eased last week and again this week. Groups can now gather outdoors and there are no limits on community sport. Unnecessary visits to homes are not allowed but care arrangements are not included in that order.
Queensland’s south-east is also currently under lockdown orders requiring people to stay at home except for (a very few) essential reasons.
Western Australia has some restrictions on visiting aged care facilities and travel is generally not permitted to Aboriginal communities.
South Australia is under “Level Three: Medium Restrictions” right now. There are restrictions on the number of people that can visit a home (no more than ten people in total in a residence) and kids sport is restricted to activities that do not involve other clubs, schools or teams.
In the ACT, there are currently no limit on household visitors.
Northern Territory has reported one new case this week and is forging ahead with encouraging all residents to be vaccinated. The government is advising indigenous people to stay in their home community.
Tasmania has mask requirements in certain situations and travel restrictions on people coming from NSW and SE Queensland.
Should my kids see their father during lockdown?
What are the child custody access rules in a lockdown period?
Firstly, if anyone in the family has flu-like symptoms they must get tested and isolate until their test result is known. If no-one is in isolation awaiting a test result or is a close contact of a COVID-19 case the rules DO ALLOW child access and care arrangements to continue, in all states.
If you have concerns about the safety of your kids, you need to contact your state child welfare agency. You can call triple zero 000 if you have immediate concerns about your safety and the safety of your kids, but Police are not able to make decisions on child access and custody matters.
You may also find our Domestic Violence help page useful.
In NSW, even in the lockdown local government areas of South-West Sydney, arranging access and care for kids and their parents and other siblings is a “reasonable excuse” to leave home.
The NSW Health Department advises that:
You may leave your home (or temporary accommodation) to facilitate access … and contact between
- parents and children or siblings or
- children under the age of 18 who do not live in the same household as
o their parents or siblings or
o one of their parents or siblings.
For South-east Queensland, the state government says:
“All shared parenting, child contact and sibling contact arrangements can occur (not just court determined).”
That rule applies from today (Wednesday 4 August) until further notice, at least until Sunday 8th August.
In Victoria, the government still bans most household visiting but looking after children is an permitted reason to visit another household
The Victorian government says “Yes” to the question: “Can I drop my children at childcare or someone’s house to have looked after?”
Other states have fewer restrictions on movement and similar advice regarding child access and custody. So yes, your children’s father is permitted to pick them up for the weekend or you can drop them off at his place. That includes if you live in Fairfield or any of the other local government areas in NSW or in Brisbane and surrounds.
What about interstate travel for child custody access?
Interstate travel restrictions are changing regularly. The Family Court of Australia advises parents to check on the state websites. Travellers to WA and Tasmania are required to download and apply for travel permits through the G2G app.
Court Orders as proof of child custody access
If you have court orders in place, the court says take them with you as you pass through the state border:
“When crossing State or Territory borders you may be required to provide the appropriate court order, as evidence of essential movement …
“Please ensure that you also carry current photo identification. Ideally, you should have a hardcopy of the appropriate court order, or at least, an electronic copy or photo of the orders.”
Australian COVID-19 restriction information
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