A distraught mother believes the co-parenting guidelines from the Principal Family Court judge, Jacquelyn Moran, during the Covid-19 lockdown- are vague and should be considered case by case.

The mother who cannot be identified for legal reasons is worried about her daughter's living arrangements with her father who lives in the same city.

"The judge said parents need to put their differences aside and put the interests of the children first. But when you are dealing with someone you can't communicate with who is 'narcissistic and controlling and has a different lifestyle to ours there is no coming to an agreement'," she said.


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Last year the man who has permanent name suppression was caught with illegal drugs and a military-style semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine at his home.

He was discharged without conviction because his lawyer argued the drugs helped him with chronic pain after an accident.

Before the lockdown, the mother claimed her daughter "reluctantly" visited her father but at least she was still going to school and had a friend to play with nearby.

But now with the country in lockdown, the mother is worried her daughter will be more "isolated and anxious" than ever.

"She is always in tears on the way to his house. Her dad doesn't do active parenting like baking, crafts or exercises as I do at home. I worry about her mental wellbeing at the best of times, but now I am even more so."

The woman's greatest fear is she may not see her daughter for a while if she gets sick or if her father gets sick.

"He has been a chronic marijuana smoker and he coughs frequently without covering his mouth. Although the gun he used to have under his bed has gone, my daughter tells me he smokes 'weird-smelling stuff' which are not normal cigarettes," she said.

She said the two households are completely different in "cleanliness and practices". The woman and her teenager have been vigilant about washing their hands and keeping to themselves. But she is concerned her daughter will get depressed and bored with only a mobile phone to rely on for contact.


"My daughter is at the age where she wants to lie in bed all day. I have to say to her 'Come on, let's go for a walk'. When the alerts came onto our phones saying don't leave the house, don't drive unless you have to, stay in your bubble- we were already in a bubble that was established. Now she is being sent to another one."

Last week the Family Court issued guidelines for children from families who have shared care arrangements - the overriding consideration was for parents to make decisions in the best interests of their children.

Generally, children in the same communities can continue to go between their homes, unless the child is unwell, or someone in either home is unwell.

It is unsafe for children if they have to be with a caregiver who has been overseas in the last 14 days or to have contact with someone who has the virus or is being tested for Covid 19.

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The judge also recommended that parents and caregivers discuss if shared custody arrangements would allow the virus to potentially spread without them being aware and reach for an agreement. This may mean the child may stay with one parent/caregiver for the initial four-week period, it stated.

"I don't think this is a one case fits all, and I don't know how they would have the time to approach everyone in the country who have different parenting orders to find out what's best for them. Everyone's situation is different," the mother said.

The mother says her daughter's father is loving to his daughter but can snap and is incapable of having a rational conversation with her.

"He is a very angry person and throws things around and punches things. If my daughter refused to stay with him, he would challenge me in court. He is emotionally and mentally abusive"

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She doesn't approve of him smoking cannabis in front of their child.

When the girl turned 13, the pair agreed the girl would spend six days with her father and eight with her mother.

" My ex-partner put her under a lot of pressure to do what he wanted so she had to compromise. "

Family court barrister Jeremy Sutton said: "Things are more complicated in shared care arrangements, so it has to be case by case. You might have a situation where there has been the major caregiver, but if the child is given to an alternative caregiver for a longer period of time then that wouldn't be considered safe or a good idea would it?"

"If the caregiver had a health condition and had to look after a child for four weeks they might not be able to cope, and what if the child gets sick? The most important thing is the stability of the child where they feel safe. Yes, there are rules but it's not clear what 'community' means, it's not a precise definition. No case is the same."

The woman has prepared her daughter with face masks, hand sanitiser, and online activities.

" I will be checking in on her daily. But it's her mental wellbeing that is my major concern. We have broken our own bubble and we are potentially widening the risk."