Published: 20 August, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Reminder that family law disputes impacted by the pandemic may be dealt with through the Courts’ COVID-19 List

As many Australian communities and families are enduring varying forms of Government-imposed restrictions in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to reiterate that the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) are essential service providers, and the Courts remain open.

The various state and territory restrictions, including border closures, may impact parenting or other family law orders, or may have created new issues of dispute. Families that are having difficulties and cannot negotiate a resolution in regard to shared-care arrangements for their children for example, may be eligible for priority hearing through the Courts’ National COVID-19 List which is dedicated to dealing exclusively with priority family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Justice Alstergren has previously raised the expectation that during these times, parties should cooperate and ensure that the best interests of the child are addressed by complying with court orders. If strict adherence to parenting orders is not possible, it is imperative that any revised arrangements reflect the spirit of the orders.

“Families can be reassured to know that they are not alone and if they cannot resolve their disputes independently, they should seek help from the many support services that are available, or contact the Courts which are open and here to assist through the National COVID-19 List for example.

“The Courts continue to provide access to justice in a timely and responsive way whilst balancing this against the public health directions and necessary restrictions to protect our staff and our community,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.

In impacted locations, trials and other hearings are generally conducted electronically via telephone or Microsoft Teams. If matters cannot proceed electronically and must proceed face-to-face, the Courts will ensure that only the minimum necessary participants attend the registry or are present in the courtroom and other social distancing and other requirements are adhered to.

The Courts have previously released information that may be of further assistance:

Further information is available from the FCoA website and FCC website.