What happens to my family law proceedings in the current pandemic?
Our previous article “How to co-parent with a former partner during COVID-19 pandemic” provides some advice about what the court expects of co-parents during this uncertain time. But what if your proceedings are still on foot? What is going to happen to them? We have a look here at the basics of what is happening to family court proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Going to Family Court
The Family Court of WA (“FCWA”) has released some information about how it is dealing with the pandemic. The FCWA is still open to the public, but it has asked that only legal practitioners, parties, their support person (if applicable) and witnesses attend hearings to limit the amount of people in the building. This means that other members of the public not attend have been requested not to attend.
Importantly, you should not attend the court if you have flu-like symptoms, if you have returned from overseas within 14 days or if you have been in close contact with anyone who fits either of those criteria.
Social distancing measures have also been put in place at the Family Court.
However, the FCWA’s preference is that everyone who can should be attending Family Court hearings by the way of a telephone link up, as described below.
What will happen to my Family Court hearing?
Hearings will still be listed as normal, but this is subject to change if the nature of the pandemic and government restrictions change. If you file your proceedings now, the FCWA will adjourn it to a date after September, unless it is urgent.
Additionally, status hearings, directions hearings, interim hearings and conferences will be conducted by telephone where possible.
Attendance at conciliation conferences, pre-trial conferences, directions conferences and judicial conferences is currently up to the discretion of the individual.
If you would like to request your hearing be done via telephone, you will need to email the FCWA with the following information:
- Your full name and court file number;
- The date and time of your hearing or conference;
- You contact telephone number.
FCWA email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I lodge documents or book inspection of documents?
Lodging documents and booking the inspection of documents is done through the Court Registry. The Registry is continuing to perform its usual services during this time.
If you want to lodge a document, you can do so by filing it electronically (the preferred method) or by posting it. Front counter services at the Registry are temporarily closed.
If you want to book inspection of documents, you should do so by calling the court’s Subpoena Office on 9224 8304.
If you are unsure where your family court proceedings fit into the new procedures, please do not hesitate to contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers for advice. Our Perth-based team of Family Lawyers can assist you in working out exactly what, if anything, needs to be done on your matter.
You can also view our fact sheets on family law.
About the authors:
This article has been co-authored by Chelsea McNeill and Jacqueline Brown at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Chelsea is in her fifth year of studying Law at Murdoch University. Jacqui is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning. Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.