A highly successful initiative implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 List, will be expanded this year to continue to assist families who are impacted by the pandemic.
The list was established in 2020 to deal exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the commencement of the COVID-19 list over 430 Applications have been made and the majority of these Applications were accepted and heard within 3 business days.
The expansion of the list will allow for applications to the COVID-19 list to be made in a broader range of circumstances.
What is the COVID 19 list?
Under the expansion of the COVID-19 list, Applications that meet the COVID-19 criteria will be heard within 3 business days if assessed as urgent or within 7 business days if assessed as priority but not urgent.
How do you meet the eligibility criteria?
To be eligible for the COVID-19 list you must satisfy the following criteria:-
- The Application has been filed as a direct result of, or if indirect, has a significant connection to, the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- The matter is urgent or of a priority nature; and
- The Application is accompanied by an Affidavit that addresses all of the criteria; and
- If safe to do so, you have made reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute but you were unsuccessful; and
- The matter can be dealt with using electronic means such as a telephone or videoconferencing.
Whether an Application is accepted is determined by the National Registrar or Judge assessing the Application. Examples of Applications that may be considered suitable for filing in the COVID-19 list are as follows:-
- Family Violence: Any escalation or increase in risk due to family violence that is associated with COVID-19. This could include a variety of circumstances such as a breach of a family violence Order or recent child welfare agency involvement.
- Suspension of parenting orders due to a family violence Order: where either parenting Orders or a parenting plan have been suspended by an ex parte family violence Order made during COVID-19 and a party seeks that the Court make further parenting Orders.
- Medical: the parties cannot fulfill the parenting obligations due to a party and/or child testing positive for COVID-19 or medical complications from having contracted COVID-19, or due to concerns about infection or quarantine requirements.
- Vaccinations: a dispute about a child being vaccinated against COVID-19. As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination commences this year, it is likely that disputes of this nature will arise.
- 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, or a party is planning international travel.
- Urgent or priority financial and maintenance issues: a party is experiencing financial distress related to the impact of COVID-19 and requires urgent Court Orders, for example, an application for occupation or sale of a property. As JobKeeper and JobSeeker come to an end in March, it is expected that a greater number of financial Applications will be made.
- Failure to resume time in accordance with parenting Orders or a parenting plan: where parties 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 that parenting plan following the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.
- COVID-19 related employment: a party is a front-line health worker or engaged in other employment connected with COVID-19 that is impacting parenting arrangements or compliance with Orders.
- Supervised contact: the current arrangements involve supervised contact, and the Contact Centre is closed, or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.
If you believe you have an urgent family law matter that has arisen as a result of COVID-19 contact one of our experienced Family Lawyers for advice.