To say the COVID-19 pandemic is a game-changer may be a bit of an understatement. It has not only changed the way we live, but it has also changed the way we work. For Australian courts, that means using new technology to facilitate the resolution of conflicts such as family law disputes.
According to reports, Australia’s Federal, Family, and Federal Circuit Courts have all risen to this challenge. They have adopted an “online dispute resolution platform” developed by a Melbourne-based company. This platform reportedly has video conferencing features, making the virtual experience similar to those users would have in person.
The Melbourne Mediation company says its platform is best used to resolve “complex commercial and family disputes.” The company also asserts that “special features” on the platform allow for the resolution of family law cases involving “vulnerable users” without compromising their safety.
Let’s take a closer look at how to resolve your family law dispute online.
Services available through the courts
Last April, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia implemented a national COVID-19 list. This is to expedite the resolution of urgent matters. These were generally categorized as “family law disputes related to the pandemic.”
More than 480 applications to the list are recorded as of March 12, 2021. Those applications came from “every major registry.” Submissions also came from regional locations such as Albury, Dubbo, Mackay, and Wollongong.
Court officials say they accepted the vast majority of those applications. Officials also say judges or registrars heard most accepted cases electronically within three days of assessment.
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Criteria for acceptance to the list have since been expanded. Applications that meet these new standards criteria will get a first return date before a National Registrar, Senior Registrar, or a Judge within three business days if designated as urgent upon preliminary assessment. If they are simply designated as a priority, the hearing will be within seven business days.
You can learn more about qualifying cases and related issues on the Family Court of Australia website or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website.
Parties to family law cases that have nothing to do with COVID-19 can continue to use the Commonwealth Courts Portal. This is a site where couples involved in family law disputes can lodge paperwork and find relevant documents without going to court. You can even file for divorce on the portal.
Regional family courts may also have rules on attending hearings by phone or online. For example, the Family Court of Western Australia has a whole page devoted to the topic. Be sure to check the website of the court where your case is being heard for relevant information.
One more option for family law disputes
Amica is an online tool available to separated couples throughout Australia. As long as the partners can still communicate effectively, this tool can help them overcome some of the more troublesome aspects of separation. Specifically, it can help them create acceptable parenting arrangements. It can also help them craft acceptable agreements regarding the division of assets.
Amica employs artificial intelligence or AI to simplify the process of dividing your assets. The AI does so by analyzing all of the information you and your partner provide about your real and personal property and finances. It then makes suggestions as to how you should divide your assets. The AI also assesses and applies relevant legal principles to your situation.
It is up to you and your partner to put any acceptable suggestions into practice when using Amica. However, experts urge couples to consult qualified legal and financial professionals before acting upon any agreement achieved through this process.
It is important to note that reaching an agreement on Amica is not the same as completing court-mandated family dispute resolution (FDR). It is also important to note that Amica is not a viable option for all separated couples.
To see if it is a viable option for you and your partner, be sure to click the “Is Amica right for me” button on the Amica website. While you are at it, check the “Know Your Rights” and FAQs pages on the site as well.
In the meantime, let us know if you have any additional questions about resolving your family law dispute online. We’re happy to help and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
What Should You Do Now?
At Mediations Australia, we have a team of family lawyers and mediators who can assist you in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and all other locations in Australia. We also do international family law matters.