COVID-19 border closures (August 2020) – Can I still see my children?
COVID-19 is ever changing and continues to impact families worldwide. The Queensland Government has closed the border to New South Wales and Victoria. But what does this mean for your parenting arrangement if your partner lives with the children in a COVID-19 hotspot, such as Victoria for example and you live in Queensland? Can you still see the children?
Can the children spend time with you despite border closures?
In our recent article Border Closures and Family Separation we addressed the Queensland border closure but here we delve a bit deeper.
The Queensland Government has published rules and guidelines for those wanting to cross the border between Queensland and New South Wales in the new Border restrictions Direction (No. 11). To access the full Direction released by the Queensland Government, click here.
Parents and children under 18 years of age who live interstate can enter Queensland if:
- They are entering to meet obligations relating to shared parenting or child contact (i.e. under a Family Court or Federal Circuit Court Order) including as part of an order or arrangement under the Child Protection Act 1999; and
- They have a Queensland Border Declaration Pass. You can find this by clicking here. You will also need identification such as a driver’s licence or Medicare card.
It is important you do not provide false, misleading or incorrect information on a Border Declaration as you could face a fine of $4,004, a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,345 or six months imprisonment; and
- They provide evidence of a Court Order or legal agreement that they are complying with by travelling to Queensland; and
- They travel by plane.
If your former partner lives in a COVID-19 hotspot and the children need to travel to Queensland unaccompanied, you will need to apply for an exemption from the Chief Health Officer first.
You may be allowed to cross the border by road if you apply for an exemption. As an example of how this would work, we have recently become aware of a case where one parent lived in Queensland with the child and the other parent lived in Northern New South Wales. The parents did not have a Court Order in place, only a Parenting Plan that was out of date due to the current situation. Both parents applied for and were granted exemptions to cross the border so long as the parent from Northern New South Wales and the child self-quarantined while in New South Wales and the parents followed the Government’s directions regarding pick up and drop off areas.
So, can you see your children despite border closures? The short answer is yes, so long as you meet and follow the above conditions. Our experienced Family Lawyers can answer any questions you have about whether your parenting arrangement means you can enter Queensland.
What happens if you are allowed into Queensland?
If you are allowed to enter Queensland you and the children will need to self-quarantine in a hotel at your own expense for 14 days, unless you have an exemption like in the case example mentioned above. You will not be allowed to leave self-quarantine except for specified purposes including, for example to give effect to a Court Order, for an emergency situation or to attend Court (if you need to attend in person). There are rules you will need to follow if you need to leave quarantine for any reason, which are set out under the “quarantine requirements” section of the Direction and penalties can be imposed if you do not comply.
The only exception to the mandatory self-quarantine period in Queensland is if you have already self-quarantined for 14 days prior to entering Queensland and you can show proof of this and other details to public health in Queensland.
If your parenting arrangements is being impacted by COVID-19, we recommend you contact us immediately to obtain legal advice to navigate this new and developing process. Contact our office by calling (07) 3221 4300 or emailing to [email protected] to arrange a fixed-cost no-obligation initial consultation with one of our experienced Family Lawyers.