COVID-19 outbreak: Will it affect my family law matter?

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected society in a number of ways. For those with ongoing family law matters, you may be wondering whether the COVID-19 outbreak will affect your family law matter. 

The short answer is yes, it may.  

Does COVID-19 affect payment of child support? 

The amount of child support that is paid and received may be affected if one or both parents have a reduced income, are not able to work or are made redundant. 

To find out more about whether the payment of child support may be affected in your matter, visit the Services Australia website.  

Does COVID-19 affect my current parenting arrangements? 

COVID-19 has certainly affected the parenting arrangements for many families. For example, there has been an increased need for separated parents to negotiate temporary alterations to parenting arrangements due to restrictions. Other specific situations that the separated parents are having to navigate, include: 

  • Supervised contact: for example, wherethe current parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.  
  • Border restrictions: for example, where the parties live in different States or Territories and the child cannot travel between the parties’ residences due to border restrictions.  
  • Resuming time: for example, where the parties have failed or refused to comply with parenting orders or a parenting plan following the easing of restrictions.  
  • Medical: for example, where the parties and/or child have tested positive to COVID-19 and cannot fulfill the parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection, or the parties cannot agree on whether the child should be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

There are a number of providers who offer Family Dispute Resolution Services for separated parents, where it is safe to engage with those services. These providers include private mediators and Relationships Australia. To find out more about how Relationships Australia may be able to assist you in your parenting matter, visit their website.  

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has also created the National COVID-19 List. The National COVID-19 List  is a court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To read more about the National COVID-19 List, click here

Does COVID-19 affect my property settlement? 

The value of property to be included in a potential property settlement (eg. a business or superannuation) may be affected by changes in the economy. Valuations conducted during economic tightening can have a negative impact. 

Does COVID-19 affect domestic or family violence? 

Domestic and family violence does not discriminate, and can affect anyone at any time. Unfortunately, during times of high stress or economic pressure, incidents of domestic and family violence may become more common.  

Organisations like 1800 RespectBrisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS), and DV Connect have extensive knowledge and experience in the delivery of services and support to persons experiencing domestic violence. They are able to support victims and perpetrators, through free and confidential counselling and referrals to programs or other supports. 

To learn some ways to support a person who you think may be the victim of domestic or family violence click here, or read our article here.  

To discuss how COVID-19 may affect your family law matter, please contact us to make an appointment to talk to one of our family lawyers over the phone or by video link. 

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