COVID-19 Related Family Disputes & the Expansion of the Urgent COVID-19 List
What is the urgent COVID-19 List?
Over the last 12 months there has been an unforeseen rise in family related legal matters, due to COVID-19 related family disputes. In April 2020 the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) established a the urgent COVID-19 List, dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family disputes arising as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the success of the urgent COVID-19 List throughout the duration of 2020, as of 20 January 2021, the COVID-19 list will be expanding, providing greater opportunities for litigants to seek urgent assistance from the Court to take advantage of fast-tracking their COVID-19 related family dispute.
Expansion of the urgent COVID-19 List
To be eligible under the expanded COVID-19 List, you must be able to satisfy the following criteria:
- your application must be filed as a direct result of COVID-19 or have a significant connection to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- your COVID-19 related family dispute is urgent or of a priority nature;
- your application must be accompanied by an Affidavit (using the COVID-19 template affidavit) that addresses all of the necessary criteria;
- if safe to do so, you have made reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute, but you were unsuccessful; and
- your matter can be dealt with using electronic means (e.g.: using telephone or videoconferencing).
Should you meet the above criteria, you may be eligible to take advantage of fast-tracking your COVID-19 related family dispute or family related legal matter within the court.
Expanded criteria of the urgent COVID-19 list for COVID-19 related family disputes
The expanded criteria of the COVID-19 List captures COVID-19 related family disputes which are directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 pandemic and acceptance under the List is at the discretion of the National Registrar or Judge assessing the application. The following are nine examples of applications that may (among other things) be considered suitable for filing under the COVID-19 List to fast-track your COVID-19 related family dispute.
if you or another party have experienced a breach of a family violence order, or a party has been charged with a family violence related offence, or their is child welfare agency involvement due to family violence concerns, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List.
Suspension of parenting orders due to a family violence order
if you or another party’s parenting orders have been suspended by a family violence order during the COVID-19 pandemic and you or another party seek that the Court make further parenting orders, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List
After the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine, if there is a dispute about your child being vaccinated against COVID-19, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List.
the parties cannot fulfil their parenting obligations due to a party and/or child testing positive for COVID-19, or medical complications from having contracted COVID-19, or other medical complications or concerns regarding COVID-19 infection or mandatory quarantine requirements.
if the current parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed or the supervisors are unable to perform their role due to COVID-19, and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List.
Travel arrangements or border restrictions
the parties live in different States or Territories and there are difficulties or anticipated difficulties with the child travelling between the parties’ residences due to COVID-19. This also extends to Government restrictions on travel, or a party planning to travel internationally.
Urgent or priority financial and maintenance issues
if you or another party are experiencing financial distress due to the COVID-19 and require urgent court orders, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List.
Failure to resume time in accordance with parenting orders or a parenting plan
if you or another party agreed to suspend parenting orders (or a parenting plan) due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there has been a failure or refusal to resume compliance with those parenting orders (or parenting plan) following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 court List.
COVID-19 related employment
if you or another party are a front line health worker or engaged in other employment connected with COVID-19 (such as hotel quarantine or support work) that is impacting your parenting arrangements or compliance with orders, then you may be considered suitable under the COVID-19 List.
How do I file under the urgent COVID-19 list?
If you require assistance regarding fast-tracking your family related dispute in the COVID-19 List, or require legal advice for another family related matter, contact our firm 1300 749 709 to see hour one of our experience family lawyers can assist you. Our experienced family law team here at Ramsden Lawyers are always happy to assist.