Courts Implement Dedicated List in Response to COVID-19

Courts implement dedicated list in response to COVID-19.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have seen a significant increase in the number of urgent applications filed by parents with disputes resulting from exclusionary travel and social distancing restrictions.

In response to this, the Courts have established a dedicated court list to quickly identify and deal with urgent parenting-related disputes that have arisen due to COVID-19. The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Honourable William Alstergren issued a statement on 26 April 2020 regarding this new court list which briefly states:

  • Eligible applications, especially those involving issues of risk and family violence, will be immediately reviewed by a dedicated Registrar. They will assess the needs of the case and allocate it to be heard by a Judge within 72 hours;
  • Applications will be heard electronically as quickly as possible by a Judge from any Registry of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Courts of Australia.

Courts Implement Dedicated List in Response to COVID-19

Courts implement dedicated list in response to COVID-19 – What kind of cases will be eligible?

The Courts have provided the following examples of applications that may be suitable:

  • Cases involving family violence;
  • If current parenting arrangements involved 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.
  • If the parties live in different States or Territories and the child cannot travel between the parties’ residences due to border restrictions.
  • If the parties and/or the child have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot fulfil the parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection.

As stated above, in order to expedite the urgent applications, the COVID-19 list will operate completely through electronic means. This includes filing documents via email and conducting the Hearings through Microsoft Teams.

Watts McCray Lawyers continue to be able to advise our existing clients and any new clients experiencing family law issues by telephone and arrangements can also be put in place for video conferencing as appropriate. Please see our blog about the changes we have implemented: Watts McCray addresses the challenges of COVID-19.

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If your parenting arrangement has been disrupted due to COVID-19, please contact us to book an appointment with one of our qualified solicitors.

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