In a recent newspaper article published by the Sydney Morning Herald it was reported that there was a recent increase in urgent family law cases as a result of the current COVID-19 climate.
In a media release issued by the Family Court of Australia it was confirmed that over a four-week period during March and April there was a 39% increase in filing of urgent applications in the Family Court of Australia and a 23% increase in filing of matters in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
In response to the increase in urgent parenting applications having arisen due to the current COVID-19 pandemic the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia are introducing a specific COVID-19 court list which will launch on 29 April 2020.
Many of the urgent applications, which will feature in the new COVID-19 list will include but are not limited to matters including:
· allegations of family violence;
· supervised time between a parent and a child which cannot continue as a result of supervised contact centres not being able to carry out supervision in the current pandemic and parties failing to agree to alternative options;
· border restrictions and the impact on parties who live interstate where a child/ren is ordinarily required to move between States to spend time with a party; and,
· medical issues in the current pandemic and their impact on parenting arrangements.
All applications filed in both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court claiming urgency in relation to parenting matters will be triaged by a Registrar and then, where appropriate, referred on to a Judge or alternatively other directions will be made by the Registrar progressing the matter.
The Court has responded in circumstances where the COVID-19 pandemic was creating some issues with compliance with Court Orders and with the facilitation of relationships between children and parents who do not live in the same household. The urgent matters will proceed by way of electronic means from filing via email to the conduct of Court listings by way of telephone and hearings will take place through Microsoft Teams.
What does all of this mean?
If you are currently experiencing difficulties with compliance with parenting Court Orders or are experiencing challenges with parenting matters in the current COVID–19 climate, then you should contact one of our specialist family lawyers to obtain advice in relation to whether your matter is one that can be filed in the new COVID-19 list, or alternatively whether some other form of legal remedy and/or alternative dispute resolution is appropriate. A member of Coleman Greig’s Family Law Team or one of Coleman Greig’s Family Law Accredited Specialists, would be more than happy to assist you today.