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COVID-19 and urgent hearings

Maintaining access to justice and ensuring the effectiveness of our court system is a paramount consideration of the courts in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 28 April 2020, the Chief Justice of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia released Joint Practice Direction 3 of 2020 establishing “The COVID-19 List”.

The purpose of the list is to enable matters that arise solely or substantially from the COVID-19 pandemic to be able to be heard on an urgent basis and commenced operation on 29 April 2020.

Is my application eligible?

To be eligible for the COVID-19 List, your matter must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • The application is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The matter is urgent;
  • The application is accompanied by an Affidavit using the COVID-19 template;
  • You must have made reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute (if it was safe to do so); and
  • The matter must be capable of being dealt with using electronic means (such as videoconferencing and telephone).

Some examples Applications which may be suitable for filing in the COVID-19 list include:

  • Family violence that is a result of COVID-19;
  • Parenting orders involving supervised contact which are unworkable due to social distancing measures;
  • Border restrictions and children being unable to travel between the parties residences; or
  • If a party or child has tested positive to COVID-19 and is unable to fulfil their parenting duties.

Once you have submitted your application it will be assessed by the Court to determine if your matter is in fact urgent, and if it meets the criteria outlined above.  If your matter is deemed appropriate for the COVID-19 List, you will receive a first return date within three business days of filing your application.

If you require assistance with parenting through the COVID-19 pandemic or you would like to discuss your options please contact one of our team members on 03 9070 9839 or

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Harry graduated from La Trobe University in 2016 and has worked exclusively in family law.