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Part 1: Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic

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COVID-19

Part 1: Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic

There is no question that we are now in uncharted waters.

The world has not seen an influenza pandemic of this nature since Swine Flu and HIV/AIDS. These are classified as pandemics despite the seeming lack of panic at the time. The Family Court of Western Australia was established by the Family Law Act in 1975 and commenced operation in 1976. Since that time, the Court has not had to deal with anything on this global scale before.

We are keenly aware of how crucial it is to remain updated on an hourly basis as information becomes available. At this stage, much remains unknown. This blog series is intended to provide information to you, in an efficient and understandable manner, about what we do know. As you know, this information is subject to change as the situation evolves.

Firstly, at this stage, Court proceedings are continuing, and your obligations remain in place. COVID-19 is not a “get out of jail free card” that will exempt you from attending Hearings and complying with Orders, without a reasonable excuse.

That being said, the Court has made significant changes to reduce the risk of parties, practitioners and staff being exposed to COVID-19. This includes the ability for parties and practitioners to attend all hearings (other than Trials) by telephone. To do so, you must still complete the Request to Attend by Electronic Communication form. Additionally, the Court is accepting all documents to be filed electronically on the Commonwealth Courts Portal, or by post, rather than the documents being presented in person.

There will be further changes, should the situation continue to escalate. Further restrictions may be applied to the ability to inspect documents produced by Subpoena or listen to an audio recording of a Court hearing. Should either of the above be paramount to your situation, seek legal advice and contact the Subpoena Office for further information.

It is not yet known how the Court will proceed regarding Conciliation Conferences, Trials or how these will be extended into the future, should governmental regulations become more restrictive. For now, we continue to do everything we can do to comply with our obligations and progress matters forward towards an overall resolution.

More than ever, this situation highlights the importance to act without delay. Whether it be in relation to signing your Will, seeking advice regarding parenting matters, attending Mediation, or finalising Orders regarding a superannuation split, the future remains unpredictable. While it is easy to say, with retrospective wisdom, at this stage, our world and economy are too fragile to delay decisions related to any of these important aspects of life.

Please contact our experienced, professional Team with any questions or queries regarding the potential impact of COVID-19 on your Family Law matter or your Wills and Estate Planning needs.

 

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Comments

Wendy Starling on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 07:41

Very informative - great to know what's happening with the Family Courts in these uncertain times

Very informative - great to know what's happening with the Family Courts in these uncertain times
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Wednesday, 05 August 2020

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