Family Law, Divorce, Separation and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 and the Court’s response to the will affect all litigants in divorce and family law matters.

Courts are restricting, adjourning and cancelling hearings.

Matters not requiring litigation will be less effected.  Negotiated settlements can continue as normal.

The Family Court has adjourned non-urgent children’s matters and non-urgent property matters.

What is urgent is up to the discretion of judges, registrars and perhaps counter staff.

The website of the Federal Circuit Court provides some information

Police family law intervention orders are being adjourned for 20 weeks (was 72 hours).

You can conduct your interviews by telephone, Skype and Zoom.

If you have no symptoms and are not otherwise high risk we will see you in person.

What it means to you:

  • Already in court – delays likely.
  • Urgent matters not yet in court – delays likely.
  • Recently separated – appointments for advice available by phone, skype or zoom, or in person.


Your matter is urgent to you.  You need to put your best facts forward in the most effective way to get your matter treated as urgent above the competing claims of other litigants.  As specialist family lawyers we have experience in knowing how to define urgency in the eyes of the court.

Urgency generally depends on these factors:

  • Children’s matters are more urgent than property matters.
  • Risk to children is urgent.  Most of our client’s cases don’t have physical risk to children but unfortunately there are enough cases to take up considerable resources.
  • Allegations of physical and psychological harm, drug abuse by parents, change of schools, overseas travel are examples of urgent matters.
  • Allegations of domestic violence increase urgency.
  • Where a parent has any time with a child, but argues for more, that is less urgent than a child who has no time with a parent.
  • Agreed or easily proved facts are more important than he said, she said opinions in assessing priority.
  • Travel to overseas locations are urgent.  But these cases will be easier to decide now.
  • Preserving the assets is urgent.  Deciding who gets what will not be urgent.  Deciding who gets what can be decided without judges unless there are serious issues of facts and credibility.

Tactics and experience

You must anticipate that tactics will need to shift somewhat.  We always look to negotiate first and litigate last.  Until March 2020 you could rely on us assessing the strength of the case and negotiate knowing that you could seek justice in the court promptly.  That is not the case now.  More focus on out of court results is needed.

The economy

Asset prices have changed downward – shares certainly, real estate possibly.  Rejecting a reasonably decent offer may have terrible consequences in a negative market.  Then, sometime, a rebound occurs.

The focus on family law tax provisions to avoid capital gains on asset splits may switch focus to acquiring capital losses to offset other gains.

Often a business owner will claim the value of their business suddenly dropped at separation.  Maybe now it’s true.  Maybe?

A downswing in the economy usually affects solicitors in commercial law and family lawyers just get busier.  Some of our lawyers remember the recession we had to have (1990) and most remember the GFC (2008).  Back then solicitors from commercial law, without many client’s, dabbled in Family law.  It wasn’t pretty.  Be cautious.

On the bright side, now under utilised experienced family law barristers, unable to attend the adjourned court hearings, will be available for mediation.  You need to know who’s worth your legal budget.


You can conduct your interviews by telephone, Skype and Zoom.

If you have no symptoms and are not otherwise high risk we will see you in person.