Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of urgent applications filed in the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia – a 39% increase in the Family Court and a 23% increase in the Federal Circuit Court.
As a result, the Courts are establishing a court list dedicated to deal exclusively with urgent parenting related disputes that arise during this pandemic. This new list is designed to quickly identify and deal with only parenting-related cases that need urgent attention.
The following are examples of urgent applications that may be suitable for filing in the COVID-19 list:
- Family violence – if there is risk of family violence in your case as a result of government restrictions.
- Supervised contact – most supervised contact centres have now ceased operation. If your current parenting arrangements involved supervised contact and you and the other parent cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.
- Border restrictions – if both parents live in different States or Territories and your child cannot travel between the parents’ residences.
- Medical issues – either parent and/or the child have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot fulfil the parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection.
Any such urgent applications will be heard electronically, unless in special circumstances where face to face hearings are required.
At this stage, the COVID-19 list will operate for approximately three months until July 2020, but under assessment of the Court. The Court still expects that parents attempt to resolve any issues at Family Dispute Resolution or mediation prior to filing an application with the Courts.
If you find yourself in one of the situations as described above, please contact our team on 03 9614 7111 and speak to one of our experienced family lawyers immediately. We continue to operate remotely providing our full range of services and would be happy to navigate through this challenging time together with you.