An Update Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have both introduced new policies for dealing with matter during the Covid-19 epidemic, which allows the Court to ensure that urgent and priority matters are dealt with safely.

Moving forward, the Court will deal with most, if not all, family law matters by telephone. This includes matters that are listed for First Return, Mentions, Directions and Interim Hearings. Where possible, Final Hearings will also be conducted by telephone or by video link. If you have an upcoming matter before the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court, we will provide you with the contact details to dial in to the Court, prior to the Court date.

In circumstances where your matter is not urgent, your matter may be adjourned to a date to be advised. This is likely to be the case with property matters, where there is no urgency.

Only in exceptional circumstances will matters be conducted face-to-face, including where the Court is satisfied upon application by a party that the matter is urgent and requires a face-to-face hearing. In the event your matter requires a face-to-face hearing, you will be required to comply with the Court’s face-to-face protocol. This means that you aren’t able to enter the Court room prior to your matter being called and there must be no more than 8 people in the Court room at one time (excluding the Judge and Associate). All persons in the Court room must adhere to social distancing and hearings will be conducted for no more than 1.5 hours, after which time the courtroom will be closed and appropriate cleaning conducted.

If you have been ordered to attend a Child Inclusive Conference or a Child Dispute Conference, these will now be conducted by telephone. You will be provided the relevant telephone contact details prior to your appointment. There will be no requirement to attend Court in person.

If you have upcoming Family Report interviews, these will proceed as arranged unless otherwise advised. This situation may change, however presently the interviews will be conducted in person consistent with social distancing policies.

You can find more information about the new measures and listing arrangements here: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/about/news/covid-info-parents.