COVID-19 – Family Law
Can we still negotiate our property settlement during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The directives from the Prime Minister and Queensland Health are pretty clear – do not leave your home unless you have to, practise social distancing and self-isolation. However, self-isolation does not mean that everything on hold for several months, in fact, there might be good reasons to use this time to sort out what you can.
The Courts are still operating and lawyers are still working. You can still instruct a lawyer to help you through negotiations and document any agreement you reach. These documents can be lodged electronically with the Court and orders can be made.
From a practical point, you can work into your agreement any timeframes that you might need to consider given the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, you might need to think about whether now is the right time to list a property for sale or split superannuation. You can fix a time for these to occur later and work in a time frame that is appropriate in the circumstances.
There are other benefits, particularly if you are in a position to take advantage of some of the stimulus package offerings – for example, it may suit you to take advantage of any deferred mortgage repayments.
Matters can also proceed to mediation with most family lawyers and mediators offering services via Zoom and MS Teams. These are great video conferencing platforms which allow parties to participate effectively, share documents and sign off on agreements reached.
Once you have reached an agreement there are special directives in place for the signing and lodging of documents. Both the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have authorised the use of electronic signatures on Court documents, including an Application for Consent Orders and the proposed draft Orders agreed by the parties. This is a big step forward and will streamline the signing and lodgement of Applications before the Court.
If you are not sure about how your family law matter is impacted by COVID-19 or have questions about your family court matter, contact us for advice.
At this time lawyers remain an essential service pursuant to the Queensland Health directives. This means that it is okay for you to attend at our office when required. When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement. We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.
These in-person appointments are limited. Our preferred approach, however, is to meet with you via Zoom or other video conferencing to talk with you about your family law matter. We have reduced fees available to assist you with obtaining relevant advice for your matter.
If you would like some further information about how we can assist you in how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact your matter, please contact us at 3343 9522 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.