• Tanya Lavan

Family Law - Covid 19 Resource Pack



The Covid 19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our society, creating new dilemmas in family law. This resource provides information on areas of family law that may affect you and your family.

Family Violence

Research has shown that family violence is expected to soar during the pandemic. In response, Victoria Police, local violence support organisations, the Magistrates Court and family lawyers are preparing for an increase in those that will need assistance.

The Stay at Home Directions - Public Health and Wellbeing Act (Vic) 2008 contains exceptions to the current stay at home directions to include family violence. The current stay at home period is specified as from midnight 30 March 2020 until midnight 13 April 2020.

In summary, a person must not leave the premises, where they ordinarily reside but for one of the exceptions.

The family violence exception provides that, if the premises is unavailable, because of a risk of harm including family violence, another suitable premise may be used by the victim as their premise.

If you or anyone you know is currently suffering from or perpetrating family violence, please immediately call 000 and seek police assistance.

If you require any assistance with the interpretation of the stay at home rules please don’t hesitate to contact our office or seek assistance from any of the following:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

1800 Respect 1800 737 732

Headspace 1800 650 890

Mindspot 1800 614 434

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

Mental Health

Infectious disease outbreaks like Covid 19 can affect the mental health and wellbeing of many in the community. Stress and worry can cause fear, anxiety, changes in sleeping patterns, increased substance abuse and worsening of existing health conditions.

Emma Robertson has worked in the health & wellness industry for over 19 years and offers a wealth of knowledge and dedication to wellness, mental health first-aid and personal coaching programs to empower, manage stress, set & achieve meaningful value-based goals and adhere to powerful long term health and happiness. Emma can be contacted on 0435 524 435 or emma@emma-lily.com

TML is also able to provide referrals to counsellors and refer to:

Faye Wilson 0411 787 055; and

Sandy Hirschfield 0434 644 940

If you have any health concerns for yourself or a family member, you may also wish to contact the national coronavirus helpline on 1800 020 080

Parenting

Clients that are co-parenting during this time are concerned about the stay at home directions. The most recent information for stay at home directions includes a co-parenting exception.

The exception at paragraph 5 includes Victorians with more than one residence, specifically referring to shared parenting arrangements states that both residences are taken to be the person’s ordinary place of residence.

In the event you have a parenting plan or consent order and this needs to be reviewed, or you need specific advice, please contact us directly.

Children

The stay at home directions will also impact children, especially those going through parental separation, and most especially if this is high conflict.

James Willy is a Child Psychologist and has provided our office with a guide for parenting during this difficult time that can be found here (insert link)

James has a wealth of experience working with families with children experiencing developmental and adjustment difficulties. He worked at the Department of Education & Training for 10 years and has worked in Private Practice for the last 5 years. His areas of interest include Anxiety, Cognitive Assessment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Difficulties, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Technology, Mindfulness and Positive Psychology.

James is also offering online appointments with children over the phone or via videochat. James can be contacted on 0435 320 109 or jamesjwilly@yahoo.com

Property Settlements (including income & employment)

Property settlements are still able to be negotiated with family lawyers now working from home using virtual software including messenger, zoom & facetime. The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court are still hearing matters using software including team viewer which allows full social distancing and stay at home measures to be implemented.

Reece Droscher of Stellar Home Loans recommends discussing the possibility of refinancing mortgage loans prior to any economic downturn or loss of employment. Reece can be contacted directly for specialist advice on 0478 021 757

The impact of Covid 19 on employment and income will be felt by many. This may have an impact on your property settlement entitlements, as it may impact section 75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975. If you or your partner have had your employment or income impacted, you should seek advice as soon as possible as to the impact on your property outcome.

If you are experiencing a loss of or impact on your employment and need advice from a lawyer as to the legalities, we would refer you to Kate Forrester at Thomson Geer on 80803760 or ksimpson@tglaw.com.au

If you require specialist advice on negotiating part-time, flexible work, or even stay at home work in circumstances where your current employer is not allowing or recommending this, we would refer to you Karen Samuel, the Flexible Work Expert at info@flexibleworkexpert.com.au

Also please see the Australian Government website, the ATO website, Treasury.gov.au, Business.gov.au and Services.gov.au for further information about what you may be able to claim.

If you need assistance in ascertaining whether you are entitled to any of the small business, employment, job keeper, coronavirus or other payments or require the assistance of an accountant, we would refer you to Tim Lew at Mitchell Wilson on 95000533 or timl@mitchellwilson.com.au

Additionally, if you are experiencing difficulty with mortgage or other payments we would refer you to the national debt hotline on 1800 007 007

Wills

It is our strong advice to make sure that you have updated your will and that you have removed your former spouse or partner as a superannuation beneficiary. Do this today.

Your will should specifically prevent your former spouse or partner from claiming on your estate. We can refer to Ben Hammersmith and he can be contacted on 90958655 and southyarra@hammersmithlawyers.com.au

Some Light Relief

And finally, for some more upbeat, light resources we recommend:

@books_n_bevz for some excellent book recommendations to see you through self isolation.

House party & Zoom apps to keep you connected with family & friends

We at TML Family Law wish you, your family and your friends a safe and hopefully restful time during this isolation period. If you or anyone you know requires any advice about any of the content above, or any family law matters including divorce, separation, de-facto, parenting, property settlement, maintenance (spouse, de-facto and adult child) and child support, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free 15 minute chat on 0400 578 179 or info@tmlfamilylaw.com.au to arrange an appointment.

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