The Family Court of Australia (the Court) has responded to the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has made immediate and significant changes to court operations.
The aim of the new arrangements is to ensure that urgent and priority matters are able to be dealt with safely by the Court, whilst at the same time, ensuring appropriate social distancing requirement are adhered to.
The Court is acutely aware that the current pandemic is having an enormous impact on families and the Australian community but the Court will continue to provide an essential service to the community, especially in this time of crisis when people are under enormous stress.
The impact on the Court and how it can continue to deliver its services is constantly evolving and therefore the information provided is subject to change.
The following points outline some of the key arrangements currently in place:
- If you or your child is in immediate danger, please contact your local police.
- If you need advice on separation, family conflict or parenting disputes, as a starting point, you can contact the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321.
If you have current proceedings before the Court, there are changes in the way your matter may be dealt with. The following points provide a general overview of those changes.
- Most court hearings and events will be done by telephone, and if possible, through video-conferencing options. For more details see the COVID-19 updates and information.
- Some non-urgent matters may be postponed (adjourned to a future date) but this is at the discretion of the judicial officer.
- Court users will be notified prior to their court date whether their court event has been adjourned or will be facilitated by telephone.
- Only a very limited number and type of matter will be dealt with by face-to-face hearings or interviews.
- There have been changes to the way in which services provided though the Court’s Child Dispute Services and Registrars will be conducted.
- It is unlikely that parties and lawyers will at this stage be required to physically attend court, however, if that is required, the hearing or interview will be conducted pursuant to the Court’s face-to-face in-court protocol and face-to-face interview protocol.
- New instructions have been developed in relation to divorce lists, Family Court of Australia Registrar lists, property lists, PPP500 lists and contravention lists, as well as Registrar conferences and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) events.
- All new applications and other documents will need to be filed electronically through the Commonwealth Courts Portal.
- A Practice Direction has been developed, which applies to all family law applications, including appeals, filed in the Court. This Practice Direction relates to Electronic Filing, Annexures to Affidavits and Viewing of Subpoenas.
- More information and instructions are available on how to eFile via the Portal.
- The Court’s registry services will be provided remotely, by telephone and through other online services. In urgent circumstances, face-to-face services in a registry may be provided, but only after initial assessment.
- If assistance is required, please contact us through Live Chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- All information relating to court operations and COVID-19 can be accessed from the COVID-19 updates and information page.