Parents in the heat of family law situations will often want to know if the Court can help them with their dispute urgently. To a parent in the middle of a dispute situation – they may not have seen their child for months, or they may want to change their current arrangements – their situation may appear genuinely urgent. However, this is not the test that the Court applies in determining whether a matter should be listed urgently in front of a Judge or Registrar.
In the matter of Fowler & Glover (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCCA/2016/2595.html), the Court considered what test is, and should be, applied to determining whether something should be heard urgently when it is delivered to the Court Registry to file.
In that case, the Father had not seen the child concerned since separation, with there being a delay of some more than six years between separation and the Father seeking Orders. The Father was trying to get orders made in time for his planned visit to the area where the child lived. The visit was scheduled for only a month after the Court documents were being filed. The Court empathised with the situation, but emphasised that the reality of the Court’s resources were that the Court was already overlisted (above capacity) with other matters. Nevertheless, the Court clarified that it continued to overlist urgent matters, which were described as typically involving ‘allegations of serious and immediate risk of harm to children.’
This reflects our experience. The Court will largely only overlist / list urgently parenting situations where there is the immediate risk of harm to a child. An immediate risk will usually be a threat to the safety of a child well above and beyond any harm that is suffered as a result of a delay in that child’s relationship with a parent.
A good family lawyer will be able to advise you on how to identify what are, and are not, good reasons to list urgently, and be able to make a compelling case to the Court for why urgency is justified. Our lawyers will advise you on this and other practical measures to take in relation to your situation, and are available to speak to you on 03 9614 7111 or Melbourne@nevettford.com.au