COVID-19: New Family Court Fast-Track List

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have recently established a fast-tracked national list to allow the courts to swiftly deal with urgent COVID-19 applications.

The COVID-19 list will operate electronically which means that an application can be heard by a Judge from any of the Registries around Australia.  This process is another example of how the Family Courts have responded to the coronavirus situation by implementing practical changes to the way Family Law matters are conducted.

COVID-19 Fast-Track List Application Criteria

To be considered for this COVID-19 list, the Application must satisfy the following criteria:

  • It has been filed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The matter is urgent;
  • The application must be accompanied by an Affidavit of no more than 6 pages addressing, amongst other things, why the matter is urgent and how the dispute has arisen as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • That, providing it is safe to do so, reasonable attempts have been made to resolve the issue but were unsuccessful; and
  • The matter is capable of being dealt with by electronic means.

It is intended that if the application meets the criteria, then it will be listed within 3 business days or sooner, if it is assessed as being critically urgent.  If the application does not meet the criteria, then it will simply be referred into the ordinary Duty list of a Judge.

Types of Suitable Applications

Examples of applications that might be suitable for filing in the COVID-19 list include:

  • That current parenting arrangements which involve supervised contact cannot take place, because a Contact Centre is closed or the nominated supervisor is unable to perform their role and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement;
  • That because the parties live in different states or territories, the child cannot travel between the parties’ residencies due to border restrictions;
  • A party and/or the child have tested positive to COVID-19 and cannot fulfil their parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection;
  • There has been an increase in risk due to family violence resulting from the restrictions imposed on families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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