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Family Law welcomes back experienced Solicitor Emily Edmonds as Federal Courts expedite Covid-19 matters

family law covid-19

Attwood Marshall Lawyers’ Family Law Department is expanding with the return of experienced family law and estate planning solicitor Emily Edmonds to the firm’s Coolangatta office located in The Strand Shopping Centre.

Emily is a Gold Coast/Tweed local with over 10 years’ experience in the legal industry and at Attwood Marshall Lawyers as a lawyer. At a time when most firms are reducing staff, Emily has made a welcome return from maternity leave to help a surge of family law and estate planning clients, as a result of COVID-19.

“Being a new mum, I understand the importance of family and community,” Emily said. “I am ready to assist clients to navigate their way through stressful and overwhelming legal matters that may arise during this difficult time and into the future.”

A naturally empathetic and skillful legal practitioner, Emily assists clients in de facto property matters, parenting disputes, divorce applications, Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Appointments of Enduring Guardian – areas of law which commonly interlink around the time of separation.

“Helping our clients through the court process is a tough job but highly rewarding for me as a lawyer because I get to see families and children settle into their lives, and that’s my aim every day – to work towards a true resolution,” Emily said.

Emily is part of the firm’s highly reputed Family Law Department, headed by Family Law Special Counsel Michael Twohill, Senior Associate Hayley Condon, Department Manager Donna Tolley, and supported by dedicated Family Law Paralegal Brittany Watsford.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers are ready to assist families grappling with COVID-19

There has been an increase in the number of urgent applications filed in the Courts over a four-week period in March and April, with a 39 per cent increase in the Family Court of Australia and a 23 per cent increase in the Federal Circuit Court.

Statistics are showing increases in familial stress, domestic violence and, anecdotally, we’re seeing more couples separated and under one roof. We are filing more applications for parenting orders and orders relating to property. COVID-19 is bringing these matters to ahead because people have had more time to think about themselves and their children. This is particularly the case for families affected by border controls.

READ MORE: Government responds to call for urgent changes to border exemptions

The Chief Justice of the Family Court has issued new directions with respect to COVID-19, stating that if it is a COVID-19 related issue, you go to the front of the queue. The court has also implemented a series of new procedures, which family lawyers must be proficient in. Parties can now also conduct entire court hearings by telephone or Zoom, and the court is expediting children’s matters to resolve COVID-19 stresses faster.

In response to these extraordinary circumstances, we are offering our clients more legal services, with the addition of Emily. We work as a team and are helping our clients remotely as well as in our offices, whether that be in New South Wales at our Kingscliff office, in Coolangatta, Robina Town Centre or Brisbane. We now have an experienced resident family lawyer at each of our offices which is important during the border closure and restrictions on local travel.

Family Court and Federal Circuit Court directions commenced on April 29, 2020

  • The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) are establishing a court list dedicated to deal exclusively with urgent parenting-related disputes that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Applications that are eligible to be dealt with through the COVID-19 List, especially those involving issues of risk and family violence, will receive immediate attention and will be triaged by a dedicated Registrar who will assess the needs of the case and allocate it to be heard by a judge within 72 hours of being assessed.
  • If parties need to file an urgent application because they have been directly impacted by COVID-19, it will be heard electronically as quickly as possible by a Judge from any Registry of the Courts.
  • The following are examples of applications that may be suitable for filing in the COVID-19 List:

Family violence: There has been an increase in risk due to family violence resulting from the restrictions imposed on families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervised contact: the current parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, therefore the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.

Border restrictions: the parties live in different States or Territories and the child cannot travel between the parties’ residences due to border restrictions.

Medical: The parties and/or child have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot fulfil the parenting obligations due to sickness or concerns of infection.

  • To expedite the urgent application, and to provide convenience to the parties, the process has been simplified and matters will be dealt with completely through electronic means—from filing via email through to conducting the hearing via Microsoft Teams. Details of the process will be available from the Court websites.
  • It is proposed that the COVID-19 List will operate initially for approximately three months, but this will be assessed.
  • Parties will still be expected to adhere with requirements to attend Alternative Dispute Resolution prior to filing an application with the Courts, if safe and appropriate to do so. The National COVID-19 Registrar may also make orders for parties to attend electronic mediation, if appropriate.

How can Attwood Marshall Lawyers help?

Attwood Marshall Lawyers is a highly trusted leading law firm established in 1946 with a department dedicated to the specialised legal practice of Family Law. We are proud to provide exceptional client service, legal expertise, secure remote and over-the-phone appointments for new family law clients and have stringent social distancing protocols in place for face-to-face appointments.

If you need legal help with any Family Law COVID-19 issue, please contact our Family Law Department Manager, Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241, email dtolley@attwoodmarshall.com.au or call 1800 621 071.

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Michael Twohill

Michael Twohill

  • Family Law Special Counsel
  • Family Law
  • Direct line: 02 6670 1001
  • Mobile: 0428 085 134