Co-Parenting During COVID-19 Alert Level 4: What you Need to Know

Dear all,

Introduction
If you currently have either an Interim Parenting Order, a Final Parenting Order or an agreed Parenting Arrangement (either agreed privately or reached as a result of FDR mediation), you may be concerned whether these orders/arrangements can continue in light of Alert Level 4 for
COVID-19.

We have set out below the position and hope that this will provide assistance to you during this difficult time.

Advice from the Principal Family Court Judge and Justice Minister
The Principal Family Court Judge issued a media statement yesterday, a copy of which is available here: https://www.nzbar.org.nz/news/statement-principal-family-court-judge

In summary, the Principal Family Court Judge states:

  • The overriding consideration is for parents to make decisions that are in the best interests of the children;
  • Alert Level 4 is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through all New Zealanders staying home;
  • Children are able to move between households within the same community. However, no movement should occur if any of the below exceptions apply;
    • The child is unwell.
    • Someone in either household is unwell.
    • Someone involved in either household or persons in either household, has been overseas in the last 14 days or has been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID‑19.
  • Parents should discuss if their parenting arrangements may cause the spread of COVID-19 without either of them being aware and may agree that the child stays with one parent for the duration of Alert Level 4.
  • If children are to move, then the following must occur;
    • Children should be accompanies by an adult when moving between households.
    • A private vehicle should be used where possible but public transport can be used if no alternative.
  • If children are not able to move between households, the Court will expect generous indirect contact.
  • Parents must put aside conflict and this is not an opportunity to make unilateral changes to care arrangements.

This morning, Justice Minister Andrew Little spoke to Radio New Zealand and provided some additional clarity.

The interview is available here: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018740050/coronavirus-andrew-little-on-lockdown-rules-for-separated-parents

In summary, the Justice Minister stated:

  • The point of Alert Level 4 is to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • Movement cannot occur between cities;
  • Movement can occur within the same town/community. The household the children are moving between must be part of the children’s self-isolation bubble i.e. none of the exceptions noted above apply.
  • Where there are blended families with more than two parents involved, then the children should stay in one household.
  • Again, he emphasised parents to put aside conflict at this time and be as generous as possible with indirect contact if movement cannot occur.

In our view, we would also add that if there is a vulnerable person in either household, then it would be safest for no movement to occur between households.

Concluding Remarks
Our thoughts are with our valued clients and their families as we navigate together the reality of the weeks and months ahead.

Mackenzie Elvin Law is operating remotely, offering our usual level of service, support and advice for all our clients.

If you are in need of assistance then please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help. We all need to work together to get through this time of uncertainty.  

 

Kind regards,

The Team at
Mackenzie Elvin Law.