What impact has COVID-19 had on the Family Court?
As a result of the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation in Australia, and specifically New South Wales, the Court was required to transition to conducting matters on an electronic platform at the beginning of the pandemic in circumstances where the Court was no longer open to the public.
This meant that Court events which were usually held in person at the Court were now being held by way of telephone or video link, meaning that people and their solicitors could dial into Hearings without having to leave the house or office. Whilst this was a very different way of functioning for the Court, family law matters continued to progress in their usual fashion.
Up until the current lockdown, some specific Court events in some Court Registries were beginning to return to being conducted in person. These Court events included Final Hearings and Direction Hearings.
What is happening with the current Greater Sydney lockdown?
Unfortunately, given recent events in the Greater Sydney and Wollongong areas in which lockdowns and stay at home orders have been in place, the Court has confirmed that there will be no face-to-face services in the Family and Federal Circuit Court’s Sydney, Parramatta and Wollongong registries (unless otherwise approved by the Head of the Jurisdiction), until Monday 30 August 2021.
However, the Court is still open to provide support and progress matters through a range of online and phone services. The Court has taken these precautionary steps to reduce the need for people to travel and leave home for residents in which lockdown orders are in place.
What if my matter is in Court?
If your matter is in Court, or if you are looking to file an Application with the Court in relation to your family law matter, rest assured that even though the Court is not currently conducting matters in person, your matter will still progress and be given the consideration it would otherwise have received in a pre-lockdown environment.
In fact, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Courts of Australia have each established specific ‘COVID-19 Lists’ dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the pandemic (in which specific criteria must be met).
If you have any questions in relation to how lockdown may impact your family law matter, please call our Family Law team on 9523 5535.