The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have released a joint practice direction setting out new procedures to ensure that social distancing directives are adhered to, and to ensure the safety of all parties involved in matters before the Court. These are as follows:
- All documents must be filed electronically. If for some reason documents are unable to be filed on the Portal, these must be filed by emailing the Registrar of the appropriate Court.
- Subpoena viewing at all Registries is by appointment only. A request for an appointment to view subpoenas must be made by emailing the relevant Registry. Documents produced under subpoena may only be viewed if it is urgent and/or the upcoming Court date will take place within the next two weeks, although leave can be obtained to vary this.
- With respect to filing affidavits, all annexures must be included in the affidavit – “everything old is new again!”. The total of annexures must not exceed more than 2cm in width. Documents filed with annexures in excess of 2cm width should be made by way of application to the Registry Case Coordinator and the parties will be required to email the documents, or if not possible, produce documents sought to be filed on a USB.
- Signatures on documents and affidavits – documents including affidavits, financial statements and consent orders may be signed electronically by the deponent and/or lawyer on record for that party. The Court will also accept affidavits (other than affidavits and documents required in a divorce service document) where the witness is a non-qualified person and/or no witness is present and the Applicant has signed by way of typing their name in the signature box. This is the most significant change particularly with most lawyers working remote from their offices.
- Payment for applications and other Court requirements may be deferred in circumstances that you are unable to access an EFTPOS terminal. The process for online payments including e-filing will remain unchanged.
It is important that your lawyers are across the fast flowing changes to the way the Family Courts are managing the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated impact on our society and institutions.
As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual. We’re here when you need us.