COVID-19 pandemic has left us shaken. The uncertainty and the graveness of the situation have affected the entire world. With various countries placed in lock-down, businesses reaching a standstill, and millions of infected people- COVID-19 has caused a serious turmoil. With that being said, the bitter reality is inevitable. And to embrace the new normal, the Australian government has changed the functioning in a lot of areas. Be it the IT sector, healthcare, law, or businesses; everyone is expected to comply with the new normal. The Australian family court is no exemption either. At Eden King Lawyers, our team of litigation lawyers in Sydney stay up to date with everything that is happening in the law sector. We have compiled a few important points that will shed insight on all the changes and restrictions that have been imposed on the family court.
An overview of the changes
The Australian court has revised the systems involving the affidavits, listing arrangements, court hearings, filing documents, children dispute services, and other similar issues. The court has also issued some guidelines for Family court with reference to border restrictions and parenting orders. We are closely monitoring any announcements or updates regarding any COVID-19 updates from the government. The courts are heavily relying on virtual interactions and even filing of new cases or hearing dates are being done electronically. The court has categorised various aspects of the family court depending on their priority level.
Furthermore, we have prepared a list that includes various aspects of family court so that you can go through your area of concern.
The court has deemed divorce as the least urgent matter. We have seen that the court is conducting divorce proceedings through online portals and they have been progressing significantly since the lockdown. However, the lack of staff, unavailability of judges, less administrative staff, and other staff working remotely; the procedure has slowed down. As much as we understand the severity of these sensitive matters, it is equally important to understand that the procedure will be delayed due to obvious reasons.
As it is clear by now, everything is being conducted virtually. But does this cover parenting orders? According to the guidelines published by The Family Law section for separated parents, it is noted that parents separated during COVID-19 must meet all the responsibilities under those terms. Parents must act responsibly during such time and digital communication to stay up to date with their children. Due to COVID, a lot of parents have been separated from their children due to border restrictions. You can discuss your situation with us and our lawyers might be able to help you.
Matters related to children are on high priority. These matters include child care cases, child abduction cases, child abuse and any other urgent child-related applications. Although even if you can issue the cases, the hearing will take a little longer than usual. Hence, before considering appealing to the court parents must think about alternate ways to resolve the issues. You can seek legal advice from us and we will guide you on how you can begin child-related proceeding swiftly in court.
What to do if you already have a hearing date?
Existing court hearings will take place virtually. Although, the Lord Chief Justice has stated which cases can be and cannot proceed by telephone or video link. But the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the individual judge to the case. In case of a hearing, it requires oral evidence hence it is unlikely that it will be conducted via video conference or telephone. This is especially applicable for children cases and financial hearings. For other types of hearings, if all the parties agree to a remote hearing it can be done unless the judge decides otherwise.
The remote hearing takes much longer than usual hearing. But setting up or conducting them; it all takes a lot of time. Some judges do not prefer remote hearing while some do. Even the electronic presentation of certain documents is not possible. The court is urging people to go for alternative solutions for as long as possible.
In such times, it is natural to feel frustrated and helpless. But as we witness the time is gradually getting better, we will see things speeding up soon. If you are stuck in a legal situation or need our advice for any matter concerning the law, feel free to get in touch and our team of lawyers will assist you accordingly. Whether you are looking for a commercial litigation lawyer in Sydney or a civil litigation lawyer, our team has the answers to all your questions!