Earlier this month the Family Court decided a case where a parent breached a Court Order, by refusing to allow their child to spend time with the other parent because of issues relating to Covid-19.

The decision gives us an indication of what circumstances might constitute a “reasonable excuse” for breaching a Court Order, during the current pandemic.

The Facts

The mother resided in Adelaide with the child, and the father in Brisbane.

The existing Court Orders required that the mother accompany the child on any flights between Adelaide and Brisbane to visit the father, due to the age of the child.

The evidence provided included:
  • The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 on flights between Adelaide and other Australian locations; and
  • The inability for the child to maintain safe social distancing during the airplane travel.

The Decision

 
The Court found that there was an unacceptable risk to the child.
 
The Court was satisfied that a reasonable excuse was established by the mother, and the breach was necessary to protect the health of the child.
 
Additionally, the Court felt that a reasonable excuse existed, due to the adverse financial consequences the mother would suffer, by having to self-isolate for 14 days upon her return to Adelaide.
 
The Court varied the Orders so that the father would instead be required to visit the child in Adelaide for a period of time.
 
Note: Each case before the court has its own unique issues and complications, so obtaining legal advice regarding your particular case is essential.