The Coronavirus is having a significant impact throughout Australia, and the world. For many, this pandemic has arrived out of nowhere and has changed lives in ways very few saw coming.
Apart from the potential health concerns, many of our clients are asking about the impact on divorce and family law matters. In many ways, this is still in flux and there are some immediate effects. There could also be other potential impacts that arise in the near or long-term future.
However, below are some ways the Coronavirus is already impacting some divorce and family law matters in QLD:
First, courts are continuing many existing cases. Delays are notably more likely in family law cases that are in their early stages versus those already set for hearing or trial. Courts are delaying many of these matters (for indefinite periods of time to avoid having a large number of individuals in the same courtroom that limits social distancing. These delays effectively cause some matters to be in a complete standstill.
Second, many individual parties are already feeling the impact financially. The financial impact is seen in areas of business where the government is shuttering sectors of business to avoid the virus spreading. The sports, entertainment, hospitality and restaurant industry are three examples that have already been directly impacted. For anyone who works in these industries, they may have financial limitations that make them unable to pay their child or other maintenance contributions. For parties who already receive support, they might feel the pain of not receiving timely support payments during these times. Either way, the inability to comply with a court order could result in modification or contempt actions in the family court and you should keep ahead of these dates.
Third, custody cases can be contentious in divorce and family law litigation. For many litigants, they desire temporary custody and visitation with their children. They may also have imminent worries that they believe the court should address the matter through a Temporary Restraining Order. Keep in mind, with many courts not fully operational, it can be problematic to have these matters heard right now. Enforcement is the same. The net effect is many parties may end up unable to see their children or are caught up in increased disputes or custody battles without any court assistance. Our firm, Family Lawyers Mackay has moved some cases into a mediation or collaborative approaches that are not limited by court delays and can be conducted remotely whilst maintaining social distance and isolation rules. This has resulted in matters being concluded fast.
Fourth, in cases where there is domestic violence, there may be a need for an order of protection to cover against abuse. But with courts performance stifled, it may prove difficult for some litigants to have these matters heard. With matters not being heard, some fear that domestic violence may not be addressed. For parties who claim they are wrongfully accused, they may also be subject to adverse temporary orders. With access to courts being limited right now, they may have a tough time having their case heard and their name cleared, and rights protected.
Divorce and family law matters can be frustrating and emotionally draining enough. Most are looking for ways for their divorce or family law matter to end either through settlement or trial, and within the shortest possible timeline. Sadly, there is no question that the Coronavirus is making this more challenging right now for everyone.
If you are navigating your way through a divorce or family law matter, and you have concerns about how the Coronavirus may impact your case, you can contact our experienced family law team on (07) 4847 0198 or book an appointment.
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