The Family Law Courts establish a new “COVID-19 list” to deal with urgent coronavirus impacted matters
The Family Law Courts have now implemented a COVID-19 list. The list is exclusively for urgent family law matters which have arisen as a direct result of the impact of the coronavirus. Strictly speaking, this may only be confined to parenting matters. The list has been operational since 29 April 2020.
The COVID-19 list aims to promptly deal with urgent applications on a national basis. Meaning your matter may be heard by a Judge from any Registry (anywhere in Australia), allocated by the Chief Judge based on demand and available resources. The list is an initiative of the Chief Judge and is, at all times overseen and managed by the Chief Judge.
The significance of this list is that if matters meet the criteria, it will be given a first return date within three business days or less if assessed to be critically urgent.
Your application is required to be filed by email to COVID19List@familycourt.gov.au. Unless it is unsafe to do so, you must also copy the other party into the email when lodging your application or documents to the court.
Criteria for the Family Law Courts COVID-19 list
In order for your matter to be considered in the COVID-19 list, your application must satisfy the following criteria:
- The application is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- The matter is urgent;
- The application is accompanied by an affidavit from the COVID-19 template addressing the criteria in the template;
- If it is safe to do so, reasonable attempts have been made to resolve the issue, but were unsuccessful; and
- The matter is capable of being dealt with electronically.
What will be considered when assessing your application?
In determining whether your application is suitable for the list, the National Registrar will consider if your matter is suitable for an urgent electronic mediation or conciliation and may make orders to facilitate this.
It is important to note that the Judge hearing your matter will only deal with the discreet COVID-19 application or put interim arrangements in place to deal with the circumstances of urgency. Once that issue is dealt with, the remainder of the matter will be case managed by a Judge or Registrar in your local registry.
Examples of applications suitable for the COVID-19 list
We have provided the following examples of applications that may be suitable for filing in the COVID-19 List:
- Supervised contact: For example, you have current parenting arrangements involving supervised contact and the contact centre is closed or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, and you are unable to agree with your ex-partner on an alternative arrangement.
- Border Restrictions: you and your ex-partner live in different States or Territories and the child cannot travel between the parties’ residences due to border restrictions.
- Medical: You or your ex-partner and/or child have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot fulfil your respective parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection.
- Family violence: There has been an increased risk due to family violence resulting from the restrictions imposed on your family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more detailed information about eligibility, the process for lodging your application together with filing fees and fee exemption or deferral of fees, please visit the Family Court of Australia National COVID-19 List website.
If you require any assistance with filing an urgent family law matter due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact our office as we have the resources to deal with your family law matter urgently and electronically.
Legal advice and assistance continues during COVID-19
We continue to provide our client services during the coronavirus outbreak.
Most of our teams have now returned to their respective offices with others remaining fully equipped to work remotely, where necessary.
You can contact us by phone or email to arrange your consultation; either face-to-face at one of our offices, by telephone or by videoconference consultation.
Phone: 1800 659 114
This article relates to Australian law; either at a State or Federal level.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hall Payne Lawyers.