Family courts to fast-track urgent, virus-related applications

Family Court changes

Starting this week, the family court and the federal circuit court will begin hearing urgent family violence matters relating to coronavirus within 72 hours of an application being lodged.

Families battling with parenting disputes and escalating violence relating to the COVID-19 crisis will have their matters prioritised by some of the nation’s top judges to address a never seen before surge in cases like this.

We are seeing examples on a daily basis where COVID-19 is being used as a weapon of family violence to control the other party, most often when children are involved.

Commencing Wednesday, the family court and the federal circuit court will begin hearing all family violence matters relating to coronavirus within 72 hours of the application being lodged.

Parenting disputes and violence have soared since March and the start of the coronavirus lockdown, according to the Law Council of Australia.

“Although most families are trying their best to be reasonable and flexible during these unusual times, for some families this has not been possible,” council President Pauline Wright said on Monday.

The courts’ primary concerns include:

  • Children at risk by abusers flouting distancing rules
  • Parents who withhold contact for no valid reason
  • Centres where parents can have supervised contact being shut because of COVID-19
  • Issues with children moving across closed borders

If you or someone you know is impacted by family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Author:

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Kristdel Bolog

Founder & Head of Family Law

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