Will my Family Court case still go ahead amid the COVID-19 crisis? Can I still begin a Family Court matter?

Government directions around social distancing and non-essential activities has meant Courts have amended their procedures to limit the need for face-to-face contact between parties, solicitors and court staff.

Matters already listed with the Court

Many non-contested proceedings, ‘mentions’ and child dispute conferences will now be conducted by phone conference. Solicitors or parties, if unrepresented, will be contacted by the Court regarding procedure for appearing by phone.

Some urgent matters, or matters involving children such as Child Inclusive Conferences may still go ahead face to face. Urgent hearings, such as those where there is a risk of family violence, will still proceed face to face as well. In any matter that is listed to be heard by phone, the parties may apply to the court for it to be heard face-to-face. There will need to be compelling reasons as to why this should occur.

Where matters are heard face-to-face, a number of precautions will be but in place to ensure social distancing and the health and wellbeing of court staff, litigants and solicitors. All proceedings heard face-to-face will be limited to 1.5 hours with cleaning to take place in between sessions. Lists are to be scattered throughout the day to prevent large groups of people being present in the Court at the same time. Social distancing rules and good hygiene is encouraged.

For non-contested matters and joint divorce applications, these will be considered “on the papers” which means there is no need for the parties to attend in person or on the phone but a judge or registrar will consider them in Chambers.

No physical documents are being accepted by the courts. E-filing of all documents is encouraged.

Starting a Family Court matter at this time

If you are looking to start divorce, property settlement or other proceedings at this time, the Court, as always, is accepting new applications. The preceding rules will still apply, and any matters that are considered urgent may be heard in person. Matters which are not urgent or uncontested will be heard by telephone or by the parties filing papers.

Any families at any stage of Family Court proceedings should be reassured that the Court will still be hearing and managing their matter at every step of the process.

If you want assistance commencing Family Law proceedings or help managing your current proceedings, our experienced team of Family law experts can assist you. Call Marie on 0426-134-179 or email her at marie@andreyev.com.au

The information contained in this post is current at the date of publishing – 6 April 2020

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