The Family Court – The “Helping Court”- Is The Court Becoming Tougher?

Most people would appreciate that if you have a right to take someone to court it is a good idea to do that without delay.  For personal injuries, there is a time limit of 3 years and for breach of contract, 6 years to go to court. 

The time limits in family law are much shorter, one year from a divorce order taking effect for a married couple (a divorce can’t be granted unless the couple has been apart for one year) and two years from separation for a de facto couple.

The short family law time limits are for practical reasons.  The longer a couple is separated the harder it can be to untangle their finances; even if they kept things separate there might still have to be an accounting.  What they each had at separation, and what happened in relation to income and assets before and after separation will likely need to be considered.        

Recently a party in Wellard & Hawthorn [2021] FedDFAMC1A (the names are changed to protect the privacy of the parties) complained of significant difficulty in bringing their application in time and asked the Court to extend the time, arguing that they would suffer hardship. While the Court could have granted the application, the court refused the extension of time, allowing the other party to avoid a financial accounting.

lawyer with couple at desk

The Family Court of Western Australia was set up when ‘no fault’ divorce was introduced in 1975 to be the “helping court”.  Even if it is no-one’s fault a relationship has failed, it can be difficult for parties to move on and deal with their situation. 

Since 1975, the Family Court system has been greatly expanded to include de facto relationships, relationships that are treated just like a marriage even if the parties are not married and didn’t have a party to celebrate their union.

Arrangements for children have become more complex too, where the principles guiding how parties should make arrangements for their children changed in 2006. Now both parents are expected to be involved in their children’s lives, as long as that is in their best interests.   In 2012, the Family Law legislation was amended to reflect a greater understanding of the endemic presence of family violence.    

Does the recent decision send a message that the Court will not tolerate parties seeking more time to come to the court unless they can make out a strong case?  Is the court becoming stricter than it might have been in the past, where the pressures on the court’s limited resources are unrelentless? Possibly yes.    

A stricter approach could have a heavy impact on de facto couples, where their circumstances tend to be less formalised than married couples.  In Western Australia despite the best efforts of family lawyers in seeking reform of the law so it falls in line with every other state and territory, superannuation splitting is still not available. Legislation to provide for super splitting has been drafted but not yet passed by the Western Australian parliament.     

Get in Touch With Our Family Lawyers

If you would like advice in this area please contact Rhonda Griffiths at rgriffiths@bbvlegal.com.au.

Our Family Lawyers in Perth can provide you with information, advice and legal representation on a range of family law issues on a fixed fee price basis.

Navigating The Family Court After Family Violence

family court lawyer signing

The Family Court and Family Violence

Separation is an extremely difficult time. Those difficulties, and in some cases dangers, can be exacerbated for those who experienced family violence in their relationship. We discuss navigating the Family Court in WA after family violence.

Parties at the end of a relationship involving family violence may find themselves involved in proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia, if they cannot agree about the post-separation arrangements that are in the best interests of their children.

For many, the Court process is daunting. Fear and intimidation from a former partner add to the stress and anxiety that most people experience while Family Court proceedings are on foot.

In the Family Court of Western Australia in 2020, Family Consultants conducting assessment conferences identified family and domestic violence as a risk issue in 82% of cases.[1]

The purpose of this article is to outline some of the resources and special arrangements available for those who have experienced family violence and are involved in Family Court proceedings. It is not an exhaustive list of resources or arrangements available.

Definition of Family Violence

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (the legislation that applies to married couples in Western Australia), family violence means violent, threatening, or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family or causes the family member to be fearful. Examples of behaviour that may constitute family violence include, but are not limited to:

  • An assault
  • A sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour; or
  • Stalking; or
  • Repeated derogatory taunts; or
  • Intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
  • Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or
  • Unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; or
  • Unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support; or
  • Preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
  • Unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty.

Exemptions from Family Dispute Resolution

The Family Court encourages parties to reach agreement about what is in the best interests of their children, before applying to the Court for orders. To that end, to apply for Family Court orders, generally, parties must attempt Family Dispute Resolution first.

That requirement does not apply where there has been family violence, and parties may proceed with making an application for parenting orders by completing the relevant exemption form.

Special Arrangements for Court Attendance

Usually, during Court proceedings before a judicial officer, both parties are required to be in the same Court room and will usually wait in the same area for their matter to be called. For those who have concerns about their safety, the Court can make special arrangements for their attendance, including:

  • Attending from an offsite location by telephone.
  • Attending from an offsite location by video-link.
  • Attending from an onsite location (in a separate room to the other parties) by video-link.
  • Separate waiting areas inside the Court.
  • Separate entry and exit points from the Court building, or
  • A security escort to and from the entry to the Court building to the Court room.

It is important to provide the Family Court with advance notice of any special requirements, so they have time to process your request.

Cross-Examination Scheme

Most people settle their family court matter without needing a trial.

If a trial is required to determine parenting or financial matters, or both, then provided certain circumstances are met,[2] the Court will not permit one party to cross-examine the other. Instead, any self-represented party would be allocated a legal practitioner to conduct the cross-examination, funded by the Commonwealth Government.

In WA, the funding scheme can presently be accessed by litigants who were married to each other and is run by Legal Aid WA.  On 9 December 2021, the funding scheme will extend to WA litigants who were not married to each other.[3]

Behaviour Change Programs

Where appropriate and in the best interests of the children, the Court has the power to order parties who have perpetrated family violence to enrol in and attend behaviour change programs and parenting courses.

Services Outside of The Court System

Outside of the Family Court system, there are a range of services available for parents and families who have experienced family violence. They include:

You may also be eligible to apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order.

Get in Touch With Our Family Lawyers

If you would like advice in this area please contact Kori O’Meehan at komeehan@bbvlegal.com.au.

Our Family Lawyers in Perth can provide you with information, advice and legal representation on a range of family law issues on a Fixed Fee Price basis.


[1] Family Court of Western Australia Annual Review 2020, at p 13

https://www.familycourt.wa.gov.au/_files/Publications_Reports/FCWA_Annual_Review_2020.pdf

[2] see section 102NA of the Family Law Act 1975 for married couples

[3] See sections 219AJ – 219AL of the Family Court Act 1997. The Family Court Amendment Act (WA) 2021 No 16 of 2021 received Royal Assent on 9 September 2021.  Under Division 3 of that Act, the Commonwealth cross-examination scheme will apply to de facto couples from 9 December 2021 onwards.

 

Family Law: Lawyers and the Bank of Mum and Dad

laywer with couple and paperwork grant of probate

Why is it important to know about Lawyers & the Bank of Mum and Dad? The Australian Financial Review reported (8-9 May 2021) that parents are now among the nations’ top 10 lenders for home loans.  Remarkably, data shows more than 60% of first home buyers are getting assistance from their parents to get into their first home.

How should the families concerned, mum and dad and their adult child and possibly their child’s partner, document such financial assistance?

Binding Financial Agreement (BFA)

What about a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA) for the happy couple, each requiring their own separate lawyer for advice? Another newspaper (The Australian) the same weekend carried comment from family lawyers recommending BFAs where there are Mum and Dad loans.   

A BFA might provide that in the event of a separation of the couple, the loan from Mum and Dad be repaid, or not, and by whom, but is a BFA is the right solution?    

Remarkably, no one knows how successful BFAs are for most couples.  There is no record of the numbers of BFAs done in Australia. The University of Sydney (UTS) has in April 2021 Family Law Section Newsletter invited lawyers to take part in a project involving academics from several universities to gather data and report about BFAs.   

In the 20 plus years since BFAs were first permitted there has been significant litigation between the couples to the BFA and sometimes including their lawyers, that ironically BFAs are intended to prevent.    

A more immediate solution could be a formal contract between the Bank of Mum and Dad and their adult child and possibly their child’s partner, as to the terms of the loan.  Some of the loans will be ‘gifts’ and/or required to be gifted as part of the deposit requirements for the primary housing loan, so what happens then? On any basis, financial planning and legal advice should be considered by all parties.  

Our Family Law team at Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky has the skills to assist our clients to negotiate this complex system and navigate through Lawyers & the Bank of Mum and Dad. 

To book an initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers, please get in touch. Alternatively, to get started online now, visit the BBV Legal Online System where you can enter your relationship details and receive information that is free, instant, personalised and helpful.

AMICA – Can A.I Replace Family Lawyers?

Amica is a new initiative supported by the Australian Government. It is designed to assist couples to resolve their parenting and/or financial issues following separation. It is a great initiative for couples who can “get along” as they come apart.  For others, it is less helpful.

According to the website, Amica:

  • provides separating couples with a user-friendly platform to work out and record parenting arrangements that work for their family.
  • uses artificial intelligence to make suggestions about dividing money and property (considering legal principles) based on the information that is entered by the parties.

The website claims that Amica “should suit most separating couples”.  These are some of the situations listed where Amica is not going to be suitable:

  • There is a Family Violence Restraining Order in place between the parties.
  • A limitation period will expire in the next 3 months.
  • There is a genuine dispute about the validity of the relationship.
  • One of the parties to a relationship or marriage is on a visa or seeking a visa which is dependent on their relationship with their partner.
  • There are any existing court orders in place about parenting arrangements for any children of the relationship.
  • There are ongoing cases or allegations in any court involving family law, child support, family violence or child welfare that involve either parent, or a child of the relationship.
  • One of the parties wishes to relocate with a child of the relationship.
  • Either party wishes to divide superannuation.
  • There are any genuine disputes over what is included in the property pool.
  • Any property of the relationship has been disposed of (such as sold or transferred) without consent of both parties.
  • There are caveats or charges lodged over any property in the property pool.
  • Assets in the property pool are held in a company or trust.
  • One party is a director of a company that forms part of the property pool.
  • Where either party owns or partly owns property or other assets overseas.
  • The property pool includes property which is also owned by a third party.
  • Either party currently has bankruptcy proceedings against them, or if either party was bankrupt during the relationship, or if either party is an undischarged bankrupt.

While Amica appears to be a great initiative, it is not the end of family lawyers by AI.  Amica does not give legal advice. In our experience, it is very rare to encounter a matter which does not involve at least one of the complicating factors listed above, making Amica unsuitable for most separating couples.

Importantly, even if a separating couple can reach agreement using Amica, it is not legally binding. All information exchanged between parties is done so on a “without prejudice” basis, meaning the information disclosed via Amica cannot be used in Court proceedings.  

Here at Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky, we encourage our clients to reach an amicable resolution to their family law issue, whether it be divorce, parenting arrangements or property division.

To book an initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers, please get in touch. Alternatively, to get started online now, visit the BBV Legal Online System where you can enter your relationship details and receive information that is free, instant, personalised and helpful.

Family Law: A Complex And Private Legal System

executors perth three people sitting at a table looking over documents

In Australia all separating couples, are subject to a family law system that is both “bifurcated” and private. 

We can read about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s divorce and separation process in the media, and learn that in California Angelina and Brad are subject to a “bifurcated” legal system. But you will not usually learn details about local celebrities’ divorce settlements.

The fact of a separation or divorce and general details can be published but that is because it is not about family court litigation or “proceedings”.  

Section 121 of the Australian Family Law Act makes it an offence to publish details of separating couples’ court cases.    

Sometimes when media outlets have sought permission, the Court grants leave for the publication of details concerning a case, or the Court itself directs publication when pseudonyms rather than the real names of the parties are used.  On other occasions, real names are necessary, for example, if there is a missing child.

The embargo on publication means not only can details about a family law case NOT be published in the media but also NOT on social media. 

A bifurcated divorce in California means “they are legally divorced, but are yet to decide on child custody and financial arrangements”.

In Australia, the Family Law Act provides that a person can apply to the court (or negotiate a settlement without going to court) as soon as they separate, but can only apply for a divorce after 12 months has run.

That is how a bifurcated system operates, where the processes are separated into separate branches or parts.  In Australia there are three parts to the system, including a separate child support system.

Services Australia Child Support decides financial obligations for children after separation, separately from Family Court property settlement and spousal maintenance.  Spousal maintenance (rarely used in the 21st Century) is usually resolved at the same time as property settlement. Spousal maintenance can be obtained and very rarely, after property settlement.

Divorce (the right to remarry without committing bigamy) often follows later, after the hard work of financial settlement and arrangements for the children has been done. 

This complicated system is private, to protect the individuals and families involved. 

People can take steps and make decisions or seek legal process to assist them, using those parts of the system that they need at that time.  But there are pitfalls that require experience and expertise in family law to negotiate.

The confidentiality of the system means that general public knowledge of family law in Australia is limited, scattered and often ill informed.

Our team at Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky has the skills to assist our clients to negotiate this complex system as best suits them.   

Avoid Being a “Botched” Victim When It Comes to Family Law Advice

spousal maintenance

I do not know whether you have had the fortune, or misfortune as the case may be, to watch an episode of the reality TV show “Botched”. 

“Botched” follows the daily professional lives of 2 plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills who specialise in fixing up botched jobs done by less experienced and incompetent plastic surgeons.  In other words, all of their patients are former patients of other plastic surgeons and many are disfigured from procedures that have gone horribly wrong.  Hence the title of the reality show.

“Botched” reminds me of the family law practice of Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky (“BBV”).  Many of our clients have been the clients of sometimes, two or even three, other law firms before they eventually end up at BBV.  By the time these new clients come to our experienced and competent family law team, they are very often demoralised, low on funds and have completely lost faith in the legal system insofar as it relates to family law matters.

The lesson for potential clients seeking advice in family law is to avoid being a “Botched” victim.  That is, get good quality advice early in the process from experienced and competent family law lawyers who understand the process and will point you in the right direction from the outset.  This is a specialty of BBV.  The financial benefits of being in good hands early cannot be overestimated.

Put simply, start with the right family law lawyer to avoid having to change lawyers midstream to unwind bad legal or strategic advice provided by inexperienced lawyers.  Avoid wasting time and resources on bad legal advice.

As managing director, I could not be prouder of the family law team working at BBV.  I observe them at work every day.  They are ethical, experienced, passionate, empathetic and highly competent.  Further, they will work on a fixed fee basis so that clients know in advance what fees will be incurred. 

May I share with you a very recent testimonial provided by a satisfied client of the firm on whose behalf we concluded a rather complex family law matter:

            “You and your firm have been my saviour when it comes to sailing the treacherous waters of divorce, consent orders and paperwork. I cannot thank you enough for your advice, thoroughness and organisation. You were understanding, compassionate and have amazing patience.

Words cannot explain my feelings and I am forever thankful.”

If the producers of “Botched” were looking to do a similar series based on the legal profession, they could use the family law team at BBV as the practitioners fixing up the botched jobs caused by less experienced lawyers.

PLEASE CONTACT

If you would like advice in this area please contact David Vilensky at dvilensky@bbvlegal.com.au 

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Too Bad To Stay, Too Good To Leave

Upset couple sitting separately as they consider separating divorce lawyers perth

The media has been reporting that couples have found the Covid-19 impact hard on their relationships.  Others might have found that there has been an improvement in some ways, because they have endured unexpected challenges together.   In Western Australia at least, we seem to be coming out the other side.

Pandemic or no pandemic, you might be unsure about whether your relationship is “good enough”. 

As family lawyers, we often see clients who did not see separation coming.  When that happens without any warning, that can be most devastating.

Other clients come for legal advice before they have separated, when they are still living “under the same roof”. In those circumstances we can help at the front end and give advice that can potentially benefit everyone involved, while our first duty is to our client.

Separating does not increase what you have to share between you.  In fact, assets can be depleted because costs which were previously shared such as mortgage payments or rent and utility bills, are now payable for two residences. However, if you can reach an “amicable” settlement you will spend the money that has to be spent to sort things out and no more.

Only you can decide if you should stay in a relationship.  Despite what is said sometimes in the media about people not regarding their marriage vows with the seriousness that they were taken in the past, our experience is that none of our clients have come to consider ending their relationship lightly. 

Usually by the time a client decides to see a lawyer they have spent time beforehand deciding that this is what they must do. 

A useful book that is readily available that a person unsure about their relationship might find useful to read (and there are others) is Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirstenbaum.  It was published some years ago and is a little dated but many people say they have found the approach that it provides to be useful.  Reading a “self-help” book can be invaluable, but it is not a substitute for professional help about relationships.

If you are ready to take the step but still unsure, getting professional advice, concerning your relationship and also legal advice, is likely to be very much in your interests.   

At Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky a first appointment without any obligation to proceed further costs $440 including GST. 

PLEASE CONTACT

If you would like advice in this area please contact Rhonda Griffiths at rgriffiths@bbvlegal.com.au 

Separation Under One Roof

Frustrated couple experiencing 'separation under one roof'

Thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Australian economy is expected to experience a recession in the 2021 financial year.

With increased unemployment rates, and house prices falling over the last 5 years,[1] there will likely be an increasing number of newly separated couples who will have little choice financially but to remain “separated under one roof”, at least for a time.

 

Why Does the Date of Separation Matter?

The date of separation between a couple can be relevant for several reasons. 

For de facto couples, it can be the difference between the Family Court of Western Australia having, or not having, jurisdiction to make orders for property adjustment and maintenance.  For the Court to have such jurisdiction, it is generally a requirement that the de facto relationship has existed for 2 years.[2] 

It is also relevant to the limitation period for de facto couples, who generally must commence proceedings in the Family Court within 2 years after their relationship ends.[3]

For married couples, a divorce can only be granted where the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  To show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the parties must have separated and lived separately and apart for a continuous period of at least 12 months, immediately before filing the application for divorce.[4]

 

Separation Under One Roof

Section 49 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which applies to married couples, provides as follows:

  • The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated notwithstanding that the cohabitation was brought to an end by the action or conduct of only one of the parties.
  • The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated and to have lived separately and apart notwithstanding that they have continued to reside in the same residence or that either party has rendered some household services to the other.

 

Are We Separated?

Whether there has been a separation under one roof will be a question of fact which is decided on the facts of each case.  As with many areas of law, it is not black and white, and the circumstances of each individual relationship will be considered.

For separation to occur between a married couple, one or both spouses must form an intention to sever and not resume the marital relationship, and act on that intention.[5]

The body of case law involving separation under one roof indicates that a comparison of the state of the relationship before and after the alleged separation may be required.[6]  The following factors may be relevant (to both married and de facto couples) in such an analysis:

  1. Whether one or both of the parties communicated to each other that they considered themselves to be separated.
  2. Whether the parties have continued to share a bedroom, and the extent to which any sexual relationship has been maintained.
  3. Any change in the financial relationship between the parties, for example the closure of joint bank accounts.
  4. How and when the separation was communicated to friends and family of the parties, and whether the parties have continued to hold themselves out to be a couple.
  5. A reduction in shared activities.
  6. The extent to which the parties have continued to perform domestic chores for the benefit of the other, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
  7. The reason why the parties have remained residing under the same roof (e.g. financial pressures).
  8. Whether any government departments, such as Centrelink, have been informed about the separation.

 

What Next

If you consider yourself to be separated under one roof and require legal advice as to divorce, property settlement or parenting matters, please contact Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky for an initial consultation.

 

Disclaimer:  This article is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. The article is in summary form and we recommend you seek legal advice or other professional advice as to whether and or how the information is applicable to your circumstances.

[1] https://reiwa.com.au/uploadedfiles/public/content/the_wa_market/house-prices-2013-web.pdf

[2] Family Court Act 1997 s 205Z(1)(a)

[3] Family Court Act 1997 s 205ZB(1)

[4] Family Law Act 1975 s 48(2). See also s 50(1).

[5] Pavey & Pavey (1976) FLC ¶90-051, citing Todd & Todd (1976) FLC ¶90-008.

[6] Todd & Todd (1976) FLC ¶90-008

PLEASE CONTACT

If you would like advice in this area please contact Kori O’Meehan at komeehan@bbvlegal.com.au

My property and income have been affected by COVID-19

Woman investigating how property and income have been affected by COVID-19

Disclaimer:  This series of articles is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. The article is in summary form and we recommend you seek legal advice or other professional advice as to whether and or how the information in applicable to your circumstances. The information in this article was current at the time of publication, however it may no longer be applicable.

Family Law COVID-19 FAQ’s: Part Three

My property and income have been affected by COVID-19, will this impact my Family Law matter?

Many industries, investments, and businesses have been negatively affected by COVID.

If your financial circumstances have significantly changed this will impact your matter.

When reaching a financial property settlement, the law requires consideration of each parties’ future needs and earning capacity.

If you are temporarily unable to work or your business is not as profitable as it once was due to COVID this may not necessarily affect your earning capacity in the future. However, it may affect your future needs if your investments, assets, or savings have been depleted as a result and will in any event impact your financial property settlement.

Can I access support and maintenance in light of COVID-19?

Other than receiving increased support through changes to your anticipated property settlement you may also have relief available to you by way of spousal maintenance or child support orders.

If you were not previously receiving any spousal maintenance or child support, but now have reduced income as a result of COVID, where your partner does not have reduced income you may be able to seek support. If you were receiving maintenance or support but it is no longer enough due to your reduced income, it may be possible to vary your maintenance or support terms, depending on the circumstances of the other party.

In the alternative, if you were already paying spousal maintenance or child support but your own income has now been reduced, you will likely be able to vary the terms of the agreement to reflect your current circumstances.

If you cannot vary terms or seek support by agreement you may need to make an application to the Court.

Family law is a complex area which requires consideration of relevant time limits, needs, and financial circumstances of each party and therefore it is always recommended that you obtain legal advice before making an application to the Court.

Please contact us at bbv@bbvlegal.com.au if you have any queries in relation to the above answers or if you wish to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on your family law matter further.

Disclaimer:  This article is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. The article is in summary form and we recommend you seek legal advice or other professional advice as to whether and or how the information in applicable to your circumstances. The information in this article was current at the time of publication, however it may no longer be applicable.

Is my child in breach of social distancing requirements at the other parent’s home?

Young child avoiding a breach of social distancing requirements

Disclaimer:  This series of articles is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. The article is in summary form and we recommend you seek legal advice or other professional advice as to whether and or how the information in applicable to your circumstances. The information in this article was current at the time of publication, however it may no longer be applicable.

Family Law COVID-19 FAQ’s: Part Two

Many parents have parenting plans, orders, or arrangements in place which require their child to move between their house and their partner’s house. Children moving between their respective households will not be in breach of the COVID directions.

Some parents have expressed concerns that when their child is at the other parent’s house there are more than the allowed number of people at the premises.

In relation to such gatherings the current Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA) Section 71 And 72a Closure And Restriction (Limit The Spread) Directions (No 3) defines as prohibited  a gathering of more than twenty (20) persons in a single undivided indoor space or a single undivided outdoor space that is a public place at the same time.

However, the Directions go on to list a number of exceptions which include a gathering in an indoor space or an outdoor space where everyone in the gathering is a member of the same household.

A household is further defined as two or more persons who usually reside at the same place, irrespective of whether those persons are related to each other and includes by way of the specific example that a child who usually moves between the child’s father’s home and the child’s mother’s home on a week-about basis is part of the father’s household when the child is living with the father and is part of the mother’s household when the child is living with the mother.

This means that your child will be considered part of both their parents’ households and will be exempt to the twenty (20) people gathering limit while at either parents’ house.  That is, the usual occupants of that family member’s household.  Although in theory twenty people might be gathered, most Western Australian households’ have many less than 20. 

What can I do if my usual drop off or pick up location is closed?

We understand that there are many different directions and restrictions in place which make it difficult to strictly comply with parenting plans, orders, or arrangements in the current situation.

A common example of this is when the agreed pickup and drop off location, or the location where time is to be spent, is closed.

We recommend, if it is possible, communicating with the other parent in the simplest manner, by text or email and attempting to find a solution which keeps in view the best interests of the child.

If any agreement is reached, even if it is temporary, ensure that it is in writing.

This is a very difficult time for everyone, and it is important to understand that people will have different experiences, concerns, and responses with respect to COVID. Even when acting sensibly or in the best interests of a child an agreement may not be reached, where this occurs further guidance or legal advice should be sought.

 

Travel Bans

Originally WA had in place a strict regional travel ban which meant that people were generally not able to enter a regional area from another regional area or move between regions.

From 18 May 2020 the regional travel restrictions have been eased to provide for travel within the following expanded regions:

  • Perth, Peel Region, the South West, and the Great Southern region;
  • the Mid West region, Gascoyne, and Pilbara;
  • the gold fields and Esperance region; and
  • the Kimberly.

Persons still must not move between the expanded regions, only within them.

The regional travel bans have always provided a variety of exemptions for travel between regions. The exemptions include traveling between regions if 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 other parenting arrangements.

This means that where your parenting plan, order, or arrangements requires travel between regions it should continue as normal.

We recommend you keep a copy of your parenting plan, order, or arrangements with you when traveling between regions or alternatively apply for a G2G PASS. The G2G PASS is an app which allows you to apply for approval to travel regionals for your approved purpose in advance.

The WA state border remains closed and travel is not permitted into WA unless an exemption is granted.

If your parenting plan, order, or arrangements require travel interstate and this is no longer possible due to the impact of COVID (such as travel restrictions, or no availability of flights, or directions put into place by other States or Territories) you must still attempt to comply as much as reasonably possible.

We recommend having a conversation with your child’s other parent and attempting to reach an agreement, if possible. This could include increased video calls in lieu of time spent or make up time to be arranged once the restrictions have eased.

You should be careful to use your best efforts and not use COVID-19 as justification for reducing your child’s time with the other parent.

If your relationship with the other parent is strained, we recommend you obtain the assistance of lawyers to assist you in reaching an agreement and ensuring parenting plans, orders, or arrangements are complied with as much as reasonably possible