We’ve all seen our fair share of Coronavirus-related news over the past couple of weeks. Every second we are learning more about the pandemic they call COVID-19 and how it is continuing to impact the world.
Anyone thinking about or currently separating will undoubtedly be experiencing enormous amounts of anxiety because of COVID-19.
The aim of this post is to explore the recent changes, how they may impact your separation and to hopefully help you to feel more at-ease.
Let’s First Talk About Some Positives
Modern Family Law Firms
Many family law firms are equipped to continue to help you, despite the shutdowns and changes.
For example, our firm hasn’t even had to download one single program! We’ve implemented processes that allow us to work remotely since we first opened. It means we are easily adaptable and remain available to assist our clients from anywhere in the world.
Another positive is that the majority of separations are legally documented by what is called Consent Orders. Consent Orders are prepared when a separated couple has agreed on:
– the division of their assets (known as a property settlement);
– spousal maintenance; and/or
You do not need to attend at your lawyer’s office or the Court in person in order to resolve your separation using these legal documents.
Once the Consent Orders are agreed upon and signed (which can all be done from the comfort of everyone’s homes), the documents are then simply uploaded to the Court via an online portal – Commonwealth Courts Portal.
Now, To Talk About The Impact Of COVID-19
We have already learned that a number of parents are using COVID-19 as ammunition to create conflict surrounding parenting arrangements. However, we have also seen the majority of our parents being able to work together to apply common sense and practical solutions during these unprecedented times.
It is up to both the parents and any family law advisors to work together and do everything possible to minimise the impact to the children.
If you are experiencing any issues around parenting, we would urge you to seek guidance from an experienced family lawyer about your rights, options and consequences of any action you or the other parent might take.
Values, Businesses & Debt
Uncertain times also bring uncertainty when it comes to valuing assets like:
– investments; and
Additionally, many people will be incurring debt, businesses may fail and/or one or both will have a limited borrowing capacity. All as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Every relationship and financial position will be different. It may be that things need to occur very quickly to ensure your relationship assets (for the both of you) are preserved. On the flip side, everything may need to be placed on hold pending the outcome of the pandemic. You should therefore seek advice which is tailored to your situation.
Court Litigated Family Law Matters
The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia have implemented new practices to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Physical attendance at Courts is now only possible for a limited few cases. Otherwise, the majority of matters will be heard by phone. For any matters that are not considered urgent, the Courts may adjourn them to a later date.
To keep abreast of those changes, updates are being added regularly to the Federal Circuit Court Website.
The result of these changes is that unfortunately there will be significant delays to most Court litigated matters. This means that separated couples should be doing all they can to avoid having their matter end up in Court.
What should I do now?
If you are in the process of separating, we strongly recommend seeking legal advice before taking any further action.
Getting advice from an experienced family lawyer will give you a solid understanding of what next steps to take and the best way to move forward.
At Martens Legal we aim to keep things as simple, conflict free and cost effective as possible.
Would You Like Further Information?
By Tegan Martens, Principal Family Lawyer
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. You should seek appropriate professional advice based on your particular circumstances.