UPDATE AS OF 26 MARCH 2020:
The Queensland Government website enabling the public to apply for a Queensland Entry Pass is now available here. It is designed for non-residents who have a need for essential travel into Queensland, which includes compulsion of law. Parents may be eligible for a pass to effect changeover if there is an existing Court Order in place that details how that is to occur.
Applicants who are deemed eligible for an entry pass will be issued an electronic pass that is to be printed at home and displayed in your vehicle. We also recommend contacting your family lawyer for a certified copy of your Court Order, and a letter in support of the Order.
As many of you are aware, Queensland will restrict access at its border effective midnight on Wednesday, 25 March 2020. Measures will include:
- Border road closures and police checks on vehicles on major highways;
- Advice to aircraft passengers at departure point that travellers to Queensland will be required to self-isolate for 14 days;
- Travellers arriving at Queensland airports to be met by police and other officers; and
- Termination of rail services.
The above has significant implications for children travelling between states in order to spend time with parents. Obviously interstate travel reliant upon air travel is unlikely to proceed, and given the potential exposure of the involved adults and children to the risk of airports and planes, it is arguably best to suspend plans, but what of those who cross borders routinely by vehicle and can maintain proper social distancing in the process?
Exemptions to the above border restrictions are expressed to include:
- Emergency vehicles and workers
- Those travelling to and from work
- Court orders including family court
- Compassionate grounds
- Medical treatment
Police are developing methods to identify vehicles in border communities, such as a permit to make frequent essential border crossings easier.
Pending confirmation of arrangements about that permit, if you are affected by the restriction and travelling in accordance with an Order under the Family Law Act, then we recommend that you have a solicitor certify the copy of the Order, and provide correspondence verifying the legitimacy of the travel and specific arrangements under the Order. The Team at Best Wilson Buckley Family Law are here to assist urgently please contact your local office for assistance.
We anticipate that arrangements around permits will be made in coming days, and potentially alleviate the need for the Order and Letter above. We will keep you informed.
If you are faced with a co-parent whom is resisting time on the basis of perceived risk, consider putting concerns at rest by entering into a clear agreement with regard to precautions to be adopted. A pro forma Agreement can be accessed here.
If you are contemplating restricting time, it’s really imperative you do so only if there is an immediate and serious risk that cannot be alleviated by an agreement on precautions as above.
An Order must be complied with, and any breach of same will only be excused if you can establish a `reasonable excuse’. That excuse is unlikely to be well founded if you have prematurely or unjustifiably refused time with a co-parent who has proposed that both households limit contact to each other’s household only, and adopt clear social distancing protocols and health precautions. Please also be conscious that a Court is likely to be highly critical, and form an adverse view of your capacity to prioritise the children’s relationship with the other parent if you continue to expose the children to a school environment, extended family members or public locations, yet refuse to facilitate time with the child’s other parent.
Whilst it goes without saying, in such a time of disruption, fear and instability, children need the comfort and the familiarity of both parents if possible.
Contact our team of expert Brisbane family lawyers if we can be of any assistance during this time. You can find more information on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and your parenting and family law matter here.