There is no doubt that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc all around the world, causing businesses to shut, people to lose their incomes and of course, lockdowns that have proven to be challenging for all of us. Sadly, another victim of COVID-19 has been families all around the nation who have found themselves in unpleasant situations due to the increased levels of domestic abuse and violence that have been a direct result of COVID-19.
In order to stay on top of this very serious issue, The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia established a dedicated court list to deal with urgent family law disputes in April 2020. The good news is that as of January 2021, this list of priorities has expanded to include many other situations and predicaments in order to ensure that the people of Australia have the chance to be heard by the courts.
What is the COVID-19 Priority List?
In 2020, as the lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions were in full effect, and an uptick in family violence cases was documented, the fast tracked COVID-19 priority list was implemented by
the Family Court & Federal Circuit Court of Australia. After being received positively during its initial run, it was decided that the priority list would continue into the new year and beyond, ensuring that those experiencing urgent family law matters can be heard and their cases can hopefully find a quicker resolution.
Do I Qualify For The COVID-19 Priority List?
Here is a list of criteria that you need to need in order to qualify for the COVID-19 priority list. As long as you meet at least one of the following points, you are eligible to send in your application as soon as possible:
Family Violence: Examples of family violence include (but are not limited to) domestic violence or abuse, breach of a family violence order, recent child welfare agency involvement with the family related to family violence concerns.
Suspension of Parenting Orders: Where either parenting orders or a parenting plan have been suspended by an ex parte family violence order made during the COVID-19 pandemic and a party seeks that the Court make further parenting orders.
Vaccinations: Disputes about a minor/child receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Medical Reasons: If either party cannot fulfill their parental obligations due to parent or child testing positive for COVID-19. This includes medical complications arising from contracting COVID-19 or concerns about quarantine requirements.
Travel Arrangements: If both parents live in different states and there is difficulty for the child travelling between states due to border restrictions and closures.
Supervised Contact: If the parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed and both parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.
Urgent Financial Issues: If either party is experiencing financial issues or loss of income due to COVID-19 and requires urgent court orders for sale/occupation of a property.
COVID-19 Related Employment: If either party is a frontline or essential worker who is connected to COVID-19, thus impacting parental agreements or responsibilities.
As the effects of COVID-19 become more widely understood, regulations are slowly shifting to reflect these new needs. With further changes likely to be implemented along with the shifting circumstances of those impacted, it’s important that those in need have all the information they require to effectively process and handle their situation.
If you require any assistance in making your COVID-19 Priority List application or are looking for more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our lawyers today.