Are the family law courts operating during COVID-19?Whilst for many, the thought of being forced to stay home and sit on the couch is a dream come true, there are many in our community who have significant anxiety about being forced to spend more time with their partner/husband/wife and/or children.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing the greater world to be in… a flap.

It is difficult to know which news articles to read, who to follow and what is the best advice for now.

It appears to be agreed by both government and medical officials that we should be social distancing in an attempt to prevent or slow the spread of the coronavirus. This includes only attending compulsory events and not congregating anywhere with more than 100 people in an indoor setting and 500 people outdoors. As we all know, this advice is constantly changing. You can view the latest advice in relation to COVID-19 on the Federal Government’s Health Department website.

This request appears to be well summed up the meme we’ve selected to accompany our article; this one is going viral on social media channels.

Maintaining strong personal relationships during COVID-19

The coping strategies of how people respond to these uncertain times can vary.

One partner may be constantly scrolling through social media for updates or wanting to continually seek comfort from the news. The other partner may wish to avoid any coverage at all and rather, seek minimal direction, put their head in the sand and wait for it all to roll over.

Anne Hollands, Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies says:

“these different coping styles might have become evident during smaller crises, but this is a period of sustained pressure”… It could cause people to feel unsupported by their partner, they might be feeling quite alone… you can start to feel very disconnected and in some cases it can lead to irreversible damage”.

Many of us have suddenly, without notice, found ourselves having to navigate dramatic changes in routine. We are being encouraged to work from home in shared spaces, juggling childcare (or becoming teachers as our children are home-schooled) and elderly parents – whilst potentially burdened with the pressure and anxiety of facing unemployment and financial insecurity.

The ideal world of ‘family time’ is not experienced by all. It can be when you feel most vulnerable and where input from a family lawyer is most needed to assist in a safe separation.

What have the courts implemented to continue to provide ongoing services?

The courts are scrambling to address the need for social distancing and have taken steps to ensure that hearings can proceed, via telephone, reducing the pressure of the already “over-capacity” court system.

The fast-changing nature of COVID-19 is concerning.

At Meillon & Bright, we are fortunate that we can operate our business, for the most part, as usual. Whilst we are limiting face to face contact in our Sydney and Perth offices, all staff are available by video conferencing or telephone for appointments.

If you need assistance from our team during this time, please reach out.

There’s no doubt that this is a concerning, stressful, interesting and unchartered period for everyone. With this in mind, please remember that we are all experiencing this together and that everyone will feel various and different pressures from this situation.

Let’s all be kind to ourselves and each other.

About the Author

Today’s article is written by family lawyer, Kristie Smith. You can learn more about Kristie’s expertise and experience here or get in touch with her directly about your family law matters.

The information contained in this article is of general nature and should not be construed as legal advice.

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