The crisis over the Novel Coronavirus has changed our everyday lives and continues to constantly reshape the world. Lawyers is here to answer your questions about how COVID-19 could affect your family law case in this period of unprecedented uncertainty.
After declaring a state medical emergency, Australia is suffering due to Coronavirus with several issues, and family law orders are among them.
What are COVID-19’s impacts on family law orders?
We see a lot of people trying to fix similar issues, to see what is and what isn’t. We want to pass on the best of these ideas to you in these turbulent times and educate you on the recent developments impacting clients in family law, including trials, parental practices, property settlements, family abuse, and other topics.
Family law courts:
The federal government is committed to keeping the family law courts open at this time, with substantive improvements to the administration of justice and the government’s health and safety standards. Efforts require using the telecommunications technologies for both administrative, transitional, and divorce proceedings to be held in this manner.
Digital technology is used for conferences including Child Inclusive Conferences, Interviews with Family Reports, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. In those cases where court attendance is considered appropriate, then the court is stunning start times during the day and allowing at the same time no more than eight people in court space.
We are keeping up with the constantly changing rules and orders provided by the Federal Court and the Family Court.
We tend to use the Court as a final resort, as usual. We tend to resolve conflicts by arbitration, mediation, and settlement of family disputes.
Existing parental orders:
Orders under the Family Law Act remain in full force. Thanks to school holidays beginning early, there are problems for parents as well as schools potentially not returning to normal in two weeks.
Alternative education is likely to be the new standard for the future in the near term at least. Parents may have different attitudes regarding topics such as ‘social distancing’ and adequate hygiene and home school.
Standard places for the changeover may be closed. Any neighbouring states and territories are locked. Many problems can occur because the actual situations when orders were made could not have been foreseen.
Parents may consider refusing to comply with an order because of their belief that the other parent may not provide sufficient care for the child’s health or education, or because they suspect that the child may be unwell or contagious and should, therefore, be held away from the other parent.
Under extremely limited cases, a party may have only a rational justification to contravene a court order and severe consequences can follow. If you consider departing from a court order, or if the other party insists on departing from an order, you should get legal advice.
When ordinary parenting practices cannot be sustained or need to be modified, then those things should be conveyed to the other parent with the child’s best interests being the focus. In these extraordinary times contact and compassion will be more critical than ever.
It is generally not easy to deal with a family law problem, whether it is divorce, custody or support, and it certainly becomes much more complicated in the face of a pandemic that has changed life suddenly as we know it.
Family abuse and the courts of judges:
All courts remain open. With greater instability, economic strains, and couples spending more time together with more constraints and less routine, it is expected and police are being prepared for a rise in family violence cases.
The courts consider new proposals a priority and postpone temporary trials. Such amendments can have major impacts on both Applicants and Respondents, including forbidding those Respondents to reach their normal home and touch or be close to family members listed in orders. Current directives remain in place with full force.
A deal that was considered ‘right and equitable’ yesterday might not be so today in the latest negotiations. Business prices, shares, real estate, and superannuation are shifting rapidly, and work is less safe in many fields.
Childcare responsibilities can change in some families. Recent valuation estimates based on financials from last year (or months) can no longer be reliable. Superannuation is likely to respond to volatility in the markets. There are ways to split superannuation that are likely to yield a more fair and equal result.
Court Access Limitation:
Although most clients don’t like the thought of going to court to deal with their family law issues, realizing that they still have that choice if they can’t otherwise fix their problems is assuring. Additionally, there are others who for some time have expected scheduled court dates and are now hearing that these court dates are being delayed due to temporary court closures. However, there is hope that any current court delays will be short-lived and, once the courts reopen, they will certainly do their utmost to reschedule matters as soon as possible.
The government is taking strict measures, keeping precautions in mind. Jury trials were conducted in both national and state courts until the pandemic COVID-19 perished. In a few instances, video conferencing is often used for pretrial hearings and other meetings. It’s not as straightforward as a jury in court, however, but these kinds of issues happen to full formalities today.
Dan Buckley serves as a Legal Partner of Best Wilson Buckley Family Law and is preferred among the best Family Lawyers in Brisbane. He is appreciated not just for his legal expertise, but also for his ability to assist clients with critical decisions regarding their children and their financial interests.