Navigating Family Law Disputes in a COVID-19 Environment
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
On 26 March 2020, the Honourable William Alstergen released a statement on behalf of the Family Courts in Australia. It details how parties involved in the Family Law system should act in this difficult COVID-19 environment. It is important for you because: -
- It is the Court's official recommendation;
- It is the Court's "guide" on how to comply with Orders in these uncertain times;
- It may later be used as a standard to judge the decisions you make (or don't make) during this time.
The main points made by Justice Alstergen are: -
1. The best interests of the child/children remain paramount.
- This needs to be closely regarded when considering the day-to-day practicalities of looking after the children.
2. Comply with parenting orders as far as practicable.
3. It may be impossible to comply with a parenting order.
- For example, if the Orders requires pick-up at a school that is now closed.
School closures may require parties to find alternative pick up/collection points
4. Noting point (3), parties should communicate sensibly and reasonably.
- Parties are encouraged to try and find alternative arrangements.
5. If a new agreement is reached, get it in writing.
6. The Family Relationship Advice Line is open.
The Family Relationships Advice Line is OPEN for information and support
7. Electronic lawyer-assisted mediation is available.
8. Parties can formalise any agreement through Consent Orders.
- These can be e-filed with the Court.
9. If an agreement is not reached: -
- An application for Consent Orders can still be filed with the Court;
- Keep the children safe in the meantime and facilitate contact with the other parent via other means (e.g. video conferencing, telephone calls)
Communicate sensibly and reasonably in encouraging alternative arrangements
10. At all times, act reasonably.
- Parties must have a "reasonable excuse" for not complying with parenting orders.
11. Consider the "spirit" of the existing Orders.
- This, and always consider the child's best interests when considering alternative arrangements
12. If you or your child is in immediate danger, call Police or seek medical advice.
At Familylaw4men we continue to work during this COVID-19 crisis. Contact us today by email at email@example.com or telephone 0405 240 204 (Sydney and Melbourne Enquiries) to give clarity to your situation.