New Zealand entering into level 4 caused some concern for parents that share the care of their children. Understandably children are precious and are to be protected. As Family Law Specialists, our inboxes have been full with parents threatening that children would be kept in the one home for the entire 4 week period and not handed over for any usual contact with the other parent. We are urging parents not to use the current situation as a self-serving tool and to put their children first. Look at your situation, and if any actual risk is posed to your child/children by moving between the homes.
Thankfully we have had the Principal Family Court Judge address this issue in a very timely manner and provide clarification. In essence you should carry on the usual shared care regime if you can and if it is safe. This will of course vary in all circumstances and if you are unsure please contact our Relationships Team for further advice. Although our physical offices are closed we are all working remotely and here to continue to provide advice.
If you are currently sharing the care of your child/children the following should be considered:
Parents must put aside their conflict at this time and make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, their families and the wider community. This global pandemic should not be seen as an opportunity for parents to unilaterally change established care arrangements without cause or to otherwise behave in a manner inconsistent with the child’s best interests or the court ordered care arrangements.
For up to date information, families are referred to the Unite against COVID-19 website.
Judge Moran emphasises that children are precious and that, more than ever, this is a time to focus on their wellbeing, and in particular their safety. It is important that their loved ones are also safe and well, and that children know that, and are able to see their parents and caregivers lead by example.
Please contact our relationships team if you require further advice but in the meantime put your children first!