The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase of 70% in urgent cases in the FCC and an almost 200% increase in urgent cases in the Family Court, necessitating adaptation in Family Law Courts practices and a greater focus on FDR. Our CEO Fiona, presented alongside Paul Sansom SC, Barrister at Waratah Chambers, and Glenn Thompson OAM, Partner at Newham Solicitors for the College of Law, on Family Law: Recent cases, court practice and mediation post COVID-19.
Paul Sansom SC began the webinar providing an overview of the latest and greatest Family Court decisions. Paul provided commentary on:
1. Lim & Zong  FamCAFC 20 (31 January 2020) – dealing with the correct approach to disputed facts and findings at an interim hearing
2. Jabour & Jabour  FamCAFC 78 (10 May 2019) - The Full Court reviewed the law as to the effect of initial contributions in the assessment of contributions confirming that initial contributions need to bze weighed against the “myriad of other contributions throughout the course of the relationship”.
3. Finch & Finch  FamCAFC 60 (20 March 2020) – the (always popular) topic of excessive judicial intervention at trial was considered.
Glenn Thompson then considered the changes in practice and procedure of Family Law courts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Glenn highlighted changes to court procedure such as electronic signatures, electronic filing and the use of Microsoft Teams. He discussed the impact of small business failures on business including the case of Pericles & Hopman  FamCA 465 (9 June 2020) - a case where a party to proceedings asserted that COVID-19 had resulted in a diminution in the value of the business. Glenn then concluded with a discussion about the future of Family Court procedure and processes, including ongoing use of technology, and called for necessary increases in funding and improved IT infrastructure.
Fiona Kirkman outlined the increased prevalence of online mediation and collaborative practices during the pandemic period and highlighted the relevant obligations relating to FDR. Fiona then provided tips for online family dispute resolution, such as establishing ground rules and protocols for parties, managing parties expectations, familiarising with video technology such as use of break-out rooms and waiting room functions. Lastly, Fiona demonstrates FamilyProperty’s intake questionnaire, interactive balance sheets, two-way disclosure portal and document automation engine and discussed how the product provides increased efficiency and decreased costs in finalising family law property matters, particular in the new online paradigm.
You can purchase the recording of the webinar and full course materials through the College of Law.