As we continue to live under the shadow of COVID-19, Melbourne faces Stage 4
restrictions now until at least mid-September and the remainder of Victoria is in
Stage 3 lockdown.
Who knows the fate of other states and territories, as community transmission
seems to be increasing.
Melbourne Stage 4 restrictions have a number of direct effects on parenting orders
and the operation of the Family Court. Here is a rundown of the most important
things you need to know from a family law perspective.
Under Stage 4 restrictions, you are only allowed to travel within a 5km radius of your
house and you must not leave your house between 8 pm and 5 am.
However, there are family law exemptions to these restrictions, including for
parenting arrangements (which falls under caregiving) and if you are subject to
The clear government directive under Stage 4 is that you are permitted to be away
from home even during curfew times if you are leaving a situation of family violence.
It is incredibly important that you and/or your children are safe.
There is a very helpful page here containing guidelines and resources if you are in a
situation of domestic violence at this time.
One of the permitted reasons to leave home during Stage 4 is on care or
compassionate grounds, which specifically includes changing caregivers for your
children under shared care arrangements.
If you have shared parenting obligations and need to transport children between
homes under an informal or court-ordered arrangement, this is permitted under the
The Chief Justice of the Family Court has also made it clear that parenting
arrangements continue as long as it is safe for the child and that common sense
must prevail. That means, sometimes, you may have to temporarily vary the
previous COVID parenting arrangements to work best for your family.
You are permitted to leave the house to take children from one parent’s home to the
other parent’s home, even if it is outside your 5km radius.
Contact can still occur between Melbourne and regional Victoria despite the different
levels of restrictions.
Interstate travel between parents is still permitted but the practical arrangements are
proving difficult. If you are in this situation, permits are required so you must allow
yourself enough time to apply online in advance.
Supervised contact centres are generally closed. Some private supervisors are
finding ways to manage during Stage 4 with the creation of safe venues which are
deep cleaned after the use of each family.
It appears that in general, most families are trying to make it work and are being
more child-focused and cooperative under very difficult circumstances.
The Family Law Courts
You are also permitted to leave home if you need to appear in court.
The courts remain operational but are running remotely except for cases where it is
deemed urgent or necessary to run face to face hearings. Hearings are running via
telephone and through Microsoft teams.
The special COVID-19 list continues to run to enable urgent matters to be addressed
within 72 hours when there is a genuine COVID-19 related issue impacting on your
family law matter, particularly parenting issues.
If you require any clarity on whether your parenting arrangements or the impact of
Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions, please feel free to get in touch.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please also note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.