FAQs: What you need to know about Court Proceedings, Mediations, Court Orders, and Legal Services during COVID-19 in Australia
Are the Courts in Australia still open during COVID-19?
The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are still operating during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there have been some restrictions, the Courts remain open to assist families during this uncertain time.
At this time, most of the hearings have been moved online and are being conducted via videoconferencing, or by telephone. Mediations are also being conducted electronically and through other safer means.
Will my court case still go ahead?
If you have been given a date for your next court appearance, you will be notified before that date as to whether it will go ahead by telephone or videoconferencing or if it has been adjourned.
Who can I talk to for more information and guidance?
A great place to start is to contact the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321 or visit their website for information on Family Dispute Resolution services. If you are looking for information on family law procedures and forms to use, contact the National Enquiry Centre on 1300 352 000.
If you have a lawyer who is representing you, please reach out to seek legal guidance. If you don’t have a lawyer, My Legal Crunch Lawyers would be happy to assist. Contact us on 1800 572 417.
I am concerned about my health and safety and that of my child. What can I do?
If you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of you or your child, please contact a doctor. If you or your child is in immediate danger, contact your local police on 000. For information on the COVID-19 pandemic and how to self-assess your risk for the coronavirus, visit the website of the Commonwealth Government.
Do I have to go to a court building for my case?
Generally, no. There might be a few exceptions where a small number of face-to-face in-court hearings may be required, at the request of the parties. These will only be granted if necessary and will be conducted with protocols about interaction in public and social distancing requirements.
I have shared parenting arrangements. How might COVID-19 impact my court order?
During this unprecedented time, the strict compliance of court orders may be very difficult, if not, impossible. For example, court orders may stipulate that contact with a parent occurs at a designated contact centre, which may not currently be operating. Or, pick up a child at a particular school, and that school is now closed. Or, one parent may have been exposed to COVID-19 or is infected. All these scenarios may restrict the safe movement of a child from one parent to the other.
If I want to vary my parenting order, what are my options?
To do this, there are a few steps to consider:
1. Try to reach an agreement with each other
Both parties should try to find a practical solution by always considering the safety and best interests of the child. If an agreement is reached about new parenting arrangements, put it in writing, even by way of email, text message or WhatsApp between each other.
2. Seek help to reach an agreement
If you need further guidance, call the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321 or visit their website. You can also mediate your differences through lawyers. Electronic mediation services are available. If you don’t have a lawyer, My Legal Crunch Lawyers would be happy to assist in this matter. Contact us on 1800 572 417.
Once an agreement has been reached and new consent orders were drawn up, applications can be filed electronically with the Court, which is a quick process and usually conducted without a hearing.
3. Make an application to the Court
If both parties are unable to arrive at an agreement, or if it is unsafe to do so, you can approach the Court to seek a variation of the orders electronically. To learn how you can do this, contact the Court by using live chat or calling 1300 352 000.
What can I do if I’m unable to comply with court orders because of COVID-19 restrictions or other circumstances?
The Courts expect that parties will act in the best interests of their children, including the children’s safety, and wellbeing and to comply with Court orders concerning parenting arrangements. Given the current COVID-19 crisis, there may be situations where strict compliance of court orders may be very difficult.
However, parties must ensure that the purpose or spirit of the orders is respected when considering altering arrangements and that they act in the best interest of the children always. It is best to speak to a lawyer if you are faced with such a situation. Call us on 1800 572 417 for a free legal consultation.
How can I apply to have the Court settle my matter electronically?
New applications and other documents, such as consent orders, will need to be filed electronically through the Courts. If you need more information or would like assistance from a lawyer, contact us by phone on 1800 572 417.
To get a free consultation on any legal matter from My Legal Crunch Lawyers, contact us by phone 1800 572 417, chat or by completing the form below.