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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Attorney-General’s Department: Find out how our services are being delivered and how you can access them. For the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from the Australian Government, visit Australia.gov.au

Family issues

Family violence and support services

Domestic Violence Units are putting measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while still delivering services. We advise you to contact your local Unit in the first instance by phone or email to find out how to best engage with them.

For more advice or information, 1800RESPECT is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 737 732.

The courts remain open, and Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) are putting measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while still delivering services. We advise you to call or email your local FASS in the first instance to find out how to best engage with them.

You can find contact details for all FASS locations, and general information about domestic and family violence and the law, on the FASS website.

For more advice or information about domestic and family violence, 1800RESPECT is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 737 732.

Complying with parenting orders

If you, or your children, are in immediate danger, you should call emergency services on 000. If you or your children are feeling unsafe or experiencing domestic or family violence, you can access information, counselling and support through the 1800RESPECT website or call 1800 737 732. 1800RESPECT are open 24 hours a day during COVID-19. Please see ‘Family Violence and Support Services’ above for more information.

Parents are naturally concerned about the safety of their children and how the measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will affect their lives.

Parents and carers are expected to comply with court orders in relation to parenting arrangements, consistent with their responsibilities to act in their children's best interests. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders. It also includes ensuring the child's safety and wellbeing. Where measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 make this difficult, there are a number of options available to parents. The Family Court of Australia has issued general guidance for families in relation to parenting orders and COVID-19. The statement from the Chief Justice of the Family Court outlines options available to parents.

Where it is safe to do so, we encourage parents to communicate with each other directly, or with the assistance of a third party, such as a family dispute resolution practitioner or lawyer, about their ability to comply with current orders and attempt to find a practical solution to these difficulties. The focus should be on the safety and best interests of the child. Any alternative agreement reached should ideally be put in writing.

The courts remain open. Parties may develop consent orders varying parenting orders and file these electronically with the court. Where it is not possible to reach an agreement, or it is unsafe to do so, a party may apply to the court to seek a variation of the order. At all times, parents or carers must act reasonably. To act reasonably, or to have a reasonable excuse for not complying with court orders, such as to protect the health and safety of a person, is a matter that is considered by the court.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have each established a court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent matters may include where supervised contact of parenting is no longer available, border restrictions are in place limiting travel, there are medical issues impeding the ability to fulfil parenting obligations, or there has been an increased risk of family violence. For more information including for eligibility requirements, please visit the websites of the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.

For more advice about your particular circumstances, the Family Relationship Advice Line is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 050 321.

Family Relationship Centres also offer a wide range of information and services to help families, whether together or separated, to build better relationships.  To access a service, we advise you to call or email them in the first instance to find out how best to engage with them, given the current measures being put in place by organisations to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Find out more about Family Relationship Centres on the Family Relationships website.

The Law Council of Australia has also provided general advice about managing parenting arrangements during this time. This is available on the Law Council of Australia's website.

If you, or your children, are in immediate danger, you should call emergency services on 000. If you or your children are feeling unsafe or experiencing domestic or family violence, you can access information, counselling and support through the 1800RESPECT website or call 1800 737 732. 1800RESPECT are open 24 hours a day during COVID-19. Please see ‘Family Violence and Support Services’ above for more information.

Parents are naturally concerned about the safety of their children and how the measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will affect their lives.

Parents and carers are expected to comply with court orders in relation to parenting arrangements, consistent with their responsibilities to act in their children's best interests. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders. It also includes ensuring the child's safety and wellbeing. Where measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 make this difficult, there are a number of options available to parents. The Family Court of Australia has issued general guidance for families in relation to parenting orders and COVID-19. The statement from the Chief Justice of the Family Court outlines options available to parents.

Where it is safe to do so, we encourage parents to communicate with each other directly, or with the assistance of a third party, such as a family dispute resolution practitioner or lawyer, about their ability to comply with current orders and attempt to find a practical solution to these difficulties. The focus should be on the safety and best interests of the child. Any alternative agreement reached should ideally be put in writing.

The courts remain open. Parties may develop consent orders varying parenting orders and file these electronically with the court. Where it is not possible to reach an agreement, or it is unsafe to do so, a party may apply to the court to seek a variation of the order. At all times, parents or carers must act reasonably. To act reasonably, or to have a reasonable excuse for not complying with court orders, such as to protect the health and safety of a person, is a matter that is considered by the court.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have each established a court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent matters may include where there are medical issues or concerns impeding the ability to fulfil parenting obligations. For more information including for eligibility requirements, please visit the websites of the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court.

For more advice about your particular circumstances, the Family Relationship Advice Line is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 050 321.

Family Relationship Centres also offer a wide range of information and services to help families, whether together or separated, to build better relationships. To access a service, we advise you to email or call them in the first instance to find out how best to engage with them, given the current measures being put in place by organisations to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Find out more  about Family Relationship Centres on the Family Relationships website.

The Law Council of Australia has also provided general advice about managing parenting arrangements during this time which may be of use to some parents. This is available on the Law Council of Australia website.

Yes, the existing law and processes continue to apply. Unless an exemption (such as family violence, child abuse or urgency) applies, parties seeking to have a parenting matter determined by a family law court will need to file a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner.​

The Family Court of Australia has issued general guidance for families in relation to parenting orders and COVID-19. The statement from the Chief Justice of the Family Court outlines options available to parents.

For more advice about your particular circumstances, the Family Relationship Advice Line is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 050 321.

Family Relationship Centres also offer a wide range of information and services to help families, whether together or separated, to build better relationships.  To access a service, we advise you to email or call them in the first instance to find out how best to engage with them, given the current measures being put in place by organisations to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Find out more about Family Relationship Centres on the Family Relationships website.

You can search for an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have each established a court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information including for eligibility and filing requirements, please visit the websites of the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court.

The Family Court of Australia has also issued general guidance for families in relation to parenting orders and COVID-19. The statement from the Chief Justice of the Family Court outlines options available to parents.

Family relationship services have put measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while still delivering services. We advise you to call or email your local service in the first instance to find out how to best engage with them.

Get more information about Family Relationship Centres  on the Family Relationships website.

For more advice about your particular circumstances, the Family Relationship Advice Line is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 050 321.

International child parental abduction

The Australian Central Authority is still accepting and dealing with applications for the return of children from other countries. We are managing this on a case-by-case basis as each country is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic differently. Email us (australiancentralauthority@ag.gov.au) or call us (1800 100 480)  with some brief information on your situation and the country in question and we can provide you with information on the options.

We fund International Social Services (Australia) to assist with applications for the return of children abducted or retained in other countries. To find out more:

  • visit the International Social Services website
  • call 1300 657 843 (local call cost only)
  • email legal@iss.org.au.

If your child has been abducted to, or retained in, Australia, you can still apply for their return through your country’s Central Authority. The Family Courts in Australia continue to accept applications and manage cases consistent with their COVID-19 guidelines.

Visit our International Family Law page to find out more.

Elder abuse and support services for older Australians

1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) is a free call phone number that automatically redirects callers seeking information and advice on elder abuse to the existing phone line service in their jurisdiction. The phone line has been established in collaboration with state and territory governments.

Elder abuse phone lines are not crisis support services, and operating hours and services vary across jurisdictions.

Alternatively, you can visit COMPASS.info, which brings together the best resources and information on elder abuse from across the country. Funded by the Australian Government and developed by Elder Abuse Action Australia, COMPASS.info is designed to improve community awareness of elder abuse and access to information.

1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) is a free call phone number that automatically redirects callers seeking information and advice on elder abuse to the existing phone line service in their jurisdiction. The phone line has been established in collaboration with state and territory governments.

Elder abuse phone lines are not crisis support services, and operating hours and services vary across jurisdictions.

If you require immediate assistance in an emergency or life threatening situation, contact emergency services on 000.

If you need assistance with banking or financial matters, you may wish to establish a general or enduring power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make financial and/or legal decisions on your behalf or help you in making those decisions.

You can find more information at COMPASS.info, which brings together the best resources and information on issues affecting older Australians. You may also wish to read the Australian Banking Association's factsheet on powers of attorney.

Alternatively, the Australian Guardianship and Administration Council website has links to state and territory agencies with information on powers of attorney.

Getting married

Yes, however there are important changes to how wedding ceremonies take place. Weddings can go ahead but they may be subject to social distancing measures. Find out more about social distancing measures from individual state and territory governments. 

No, all marriages still need to be solemnised in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961. A marriage must be solemnised in the physical presence of an authorised celebrant and two witnesses.

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