The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on 29 April 2020 announced that they have established a COVID-19 Court list. The establishment of such a list is a welcomed step in the right direction towards reform.

What does this mean?

Basically the Courts now have a dedicated court list to deal exclusively with urgent parenting-related disputes arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Chief Justice the Hon Will Alstergren said “that the new list is designed to quickly identify and deal with the cases that need urgent attention due to the COVID-19 crisis”. 

What is considered urgent?

  • Family violence: There has been an increase in risk due to family violence resulting from the restrictions imposed on families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Supervised contact: the current parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement. 
  • Border restrictions: the parties live in different States or Territories and the child cannot travel between the parties’ residences due to border restrictions. 
  • Medical: The parties and/or child have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot fulfil the parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection.

What’s the turn around time?

Any application that is filed and fits the criteria as being “urgent” will be given immediate attention, assessed and allocated to be heard by a judge with 72 hours of it being assessed.

When does the COVID-19 Court list start?

It began on 29 April 2020 and will remain in place for the next 3 months. 

The Courts are often highly criticised for the lag time that it takes from the commencement of proceedings to a case being heard by a Judge. Hopefully this is step in the right direction in moving people through the system quickly, particularly in urgent matters. This announcement by Courts has been welcomed by the practitioners and clients. 

If you are experiencing family violence, be it physical, emotional, financial, please contact a professional, here are some suggestions 

Emergency Services – 000
1800RESPECT – 1800737732
Lifeline – 131114
Relationships Australia – 1300364277
Mens Referral Service – 1300766491
Kids Help Line – 1800551800
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline – 1800019123
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300659467

If you need my help, reach out. 

Be well, be kind to yourself 

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