News & Views
Mar 26

Covid-19 update – Care of children

Do you have a shared care or contact arrangements with your children? Wondering how to navigate the close down period?

If you have any questions on this, or you require urgent assistance you can contact our Family Law team:

Thomas Nation 027 463 5134 thomas@timpanywalton.co.nz
Lauren Archer 03 687 7384 lauren@timpanywalton.co.nz

The Family Court has released the following guidance for shared care during the close down period:

The overriding consideration is for parents to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children.

  • The intent of Alert Level 4 is to prevent COVID-19 spreading within New Zealand. Staying at home will save lives and is key to Alert Level 4.
  • Where there is a shared care arrangement and the families are in different towns or communities, the safety of the children and others in their family units should not be compromised by movement between those homes, particularly if there are more than two homes involved.
  • Generally, children in the same communities can continue to go between their homes, unless:
    – the child is unwell. In this case the child should not travel between homes until they are well.
    – someone in either home is unwell.
    – someone involved (i.e. the child or people in the home they have been in or will go to) has been overseas in the last 14 days, OR has been in close contact with someone who is currently being tested for Covid-19 OR has been in close contact with someone who has the virus or is being tested.
  • Parents and caregivers should discuss if shared custody arrangements would allow COVID-19 to potentially spread without them being aware and reach an agreement.
  • This may mean the child may stay with one parent/caregiver for the initial 4 week period.
    If children are moving:
    – Children should be accompanied by an adult when moving between homes.
    – Private vehicles should be used, where possible. Public transport can be used where there are no alternatives.
  • Where children cannot move between homes, the Court would expect indirect contact such as by phone or social media messaging – to be generous.
  • Parents must put aside their conflict at this time and make decisions that are in the best interests of the child and 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 otherwise behave in a manner inconsistent with the child’s best interests or the court-ordered care arrangements.

There is a limited scope to seek the assistance of the Family Court in dealing with matters that have urgent safety concerns. If you are concerned for you or your children’s safety then please contact one of our team.

What about if I live in Temuka and the other parent lives in Timaru, should the children still move between the homes?
Yes towns within the South Canterbury should be treated as in the same community, i.e. it is ok for children to go between Temuka/Pleasant Point/Timaru.

If possible, children should avoid travelling outside of South Canterbury e.g. Christchurch or Dunedin for contact at this time. But remember it’s about the children, so try and focus on what’s in their best interests.