Understanding the law on parenting arrangements and Sydney’s current COVID restrictions

The new Delta strain of Coronavirus in Australia has caused recent alarm and panic. Sydney has new restrictions in place from 4.00 pm Wednesday, 23 June 2021 that greatly restrict the movements of those who live or work in the city of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, inner west, Bayside and Woollahra local government areas.

See the whole list of current restrictions here.

If you have a parenting arrangement in place and you live in one of these areas you may be experiencing uncertainty especially as school holidays approach. We write this blog to provide you with some general advice to help you navigate the COVID restrictions in Sydney while co-parenting, for the next week or so.

Sydney COVID-19 restrictions as of 24 June 2021

Mother putting a face mask on child during shared parenting arrangements Covid Sydney restrictions

At present, you cannot travel beyond metropolitan Sydney unless you have a reasonable excuse to do so such as:

  • Getting food or services that you cannot obtain in metropolitan Sydney;
  • Travelling to your home/work/education/child care or for shared care arrangements;
  • Obtaining medical care, health supplies or to fulfil caring responsibilities;
  • Moving to a new home, business moving to new premises, or inspecting a new place of residence;
  • To avoid injury, illness, and harm, or an emergency situation, to undertake legal obligations; and
  • Accessing public services if they cannot be accessed in the metropolitan Sydney area.

A reasonable excuse for non-essential travel includes:

“For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings—continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings” (Paragraph 10 – Schedule 1 of Public Health (COVID-19 Greater Sydney) Order (No 2) 2021 [NSW]). 

It is clear from the restrictions that travelling to your home, work, place of education, child care or for shared parenting arrangements is allowed, however, if you have been in one of the New South Wales regional hotspots then you need to follow the government guidelines in terms of isolation and getting tested. A list of current hotspots can be found here.

There is always some danger that parents may use restrictions to unnecessarily restrict another parent’s access to a child. The Court is concerned with the best interests of children and if there is a potential risk, that children may be exposed to COVID-19 then the Court may find that the parent had a reasonable excuse for contravening the existing parenting orders.

Current Court cases

At present Courts in the Sydney region, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, remain open and are conducting their usual daily lists.

If you have a pending case before the Court, your case may be changed to be heard electronically using Microsoft teams or by phone. 

As always, parents should have a common-sense approach and exercise caution and work co-operatively to ensure the health and safety of their children.

For some general advice, read our article on how to co-parent during a pandemic (according to the law) here.

For friendly legal advice, request a callback via the form below from our experienced and dedicated family law team at Australian Family Lawyers. 

Do you have a question about family law or relationship law?

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