John Molnar

John Molnar

COVID-19 Impact on Family Law Cases

It has been reported by Chief Justice Will Alstergren of the Family Court that there has been a 70 per cent increase in urgent applications to the Federal Circuit Court and a 200 per cent increase in more serious urgent applications to the Family Court.

This seems to be arising due to increased family violence due to the COVID 19 crisis, following the lockdowns we are suffering, and economic factors such as unemployment, leading to increased family stresses.

The Family Court, and the Federal Circuit Court which deals with many initial applications relating to family law issues, have instituted a number of emergency measures to deal with this crisis. These steps include a COVID 19 List, so that people who have urgent applications can have a turn-around time of 72 hours.

The backlog of cases in the Family Court (some of which have been waiting for three or four years) is also being tackled. Judges are calling on cases, to see what the issues are, and see how cases can either be referred for conciliation or other resolution measures.

For violence cases, the Court has established the Lighthouse Project which rates cases for risk, and getting safety planning and service referral where needed. Child Protection services are being co-located to the Courts.

To be eligible for the COVID 19 List the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • The application is being filed as a direct result of the pandemic
  • The matter is urgent, for example, where a supervised contact centre is closed, access has been impacted by border closures, if one of the parties or a child has tested positive to COVID 19, there is family violence or an increased risk due to COVID 19 restrictions.
  • There have been reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute
  • The matter can be dealt with by electronic means

The affidavit to go with such an urgent application should use the COVID 19 template available AT.

If you or someone you love needs help with an urgent Family law matter please do not hesitate to contact our team.

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