Family Law Courts COVID-19 List updated

Joint Practice Direction 1 of 2021: Family Law Courts COVID-19 List updated

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia (“the Family Law Courts”) have updated the joint practice direction for the COVID-19 List which fast tracks a wider range of family law disputes that directly relate or have a significant connection to COVID-19. The Family Law Courts had introduced the dedicated COVID-19 List early last year in response to the significant rise of urgent family law applications brought on from parenting and/or financial arrangements being changed from the effects of the pandemic.


How do the new COVID-19 List practice directions help me?

Joint Practice Direction 1 of 2021 broadens the criteria for family law applications brought in the COVID-19 List to include issues that may arise from:

  • Decisions on vaccinating their children against COVID-19.
  • Obligations of parties in circumstances of testing for or contracting COVID-19.
  • Risks associated with family violence during the pandemic.
  • Financial hardship or maintenance issues arising from the circumstances of the pandemic.
  • Party compliance with parenting orders or parenting plans in place, including recognition of possible restrictions for parties who are front line health workers or engaged in COVID-19 related employment.
  • Changes in supervised contact arrangements.
  • Restrictions in travel arrangements if the parties live in different states, territories or counties.

In an effort to expedite matters, given the urgency generally associated with COVID-19 related family law applications, the joint practice direction now also allows national registrars, senior registrars as well as judges to hear matters in the COVID-19 List. Applications accepted into the COVID-19 List criteria will generally be heard in Court by an electronic platform within 3-7 business days depending on priority.

Tips for submitting an application in the COVID-19 List

Parties and litigants should keep in mind the filing and material guidelines for submitting an application in the COVID-19 List in accordance with the new joint practice direction. Some tips include:

  • Ensure that the correct supporting forms are filed with your application (for example parenting matters require the Notice of child abuse, family violence or risk form).
  • Affidavit must cover the criteria listed in the practice direction such as why your matter is urgent and details as to your reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute out of Court.
  • Ensure that you regularly check your emails in the event that Court requires material to be filed on short notice.

The recent joint practice direction can be accessed via the following link:


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As the Family Law Courts continue to adapt to changes in these uncertain times, Watts McCray Lawyers remain open and are ready to assist parties through the family law system.

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