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COVID Series: Do I need to go to Court during lockdown?

Amy Jenkins & Nicky Neville-Jones

Like many institutions during COVID, the Family Law Courts across Australia also had to quickly adapt and make changes so that the cases before them could continue with only minor delay and disruption when Australia first encountered COVID at the start of 2020.

This means, for those who have existing matters before the Family Law Courts, those matters will continue during Covid, even during lockdowns. It also means that for those who are experiencing marriage breakdown or separation there remains access to the Courts for relief.

What is the process?

Since mid-2020, the Courts have been facilitating electronic hearings as well as hearings by telephone for both interim and final hearings. While some Courts around Australia, since the beginning of 2021, have slowly been re-introducing in person hearings, given the imposition of continued lockdowns, it is likely electronic hearings will continue for some time.

The Courts have also put measures in place to protect the vulnerable and those at risk who appear electronically.

If you have an application for divorce before the Court it is likely that this will be set down for a hearing by telephone, while interim and final parenting and property matters will most likely take place on the electronic platform “Microsoft Teams”.

While your lawyer will assist you before the hearing with the technology, if you have a matter coming up in Court it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the “Teams” platform so you are not stressed on the day.

While the hearing might take place electronically, the Court still requires all parties to respect the Court process and the Registrar or Judge who is hearing the case. Unfortunately, due to technological issues, electronic hearings sometimes means the process can be slower, however your lawyer will be there to advise and support you as the hearing takes place.

How we can help

If you are considering initiating an application or currently have a matter at Court and require assistance, Russell Kennedy are pleased to offer expertise in the area of family law from both our Sydney and Melbourne offices. We have Accredited Specialists in both Sydney and Melbourne who are more than happy to assist with any enquiry you may have. For any enquiry in Sydney, please contact our national head of family law Amy Jenkins. If your enquiry relates to a matter in Melbourne, please contact Nicky Neville-Jones – Special Counsel and Accredited Specialist in Family law.

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