The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court) has commenced a Critical Incident List for family law applications which are filed in circumstances where there is no parent available to care for a child or children as a result of death (including homicide), critical injury, or incarceration relating to family violence, and orders are sought for parental responsibility to enable appropriate arrangements to be made.
It goes without saying that there are extraordinary challenges that families and children face in these circumstances. A key objective of the Critical Incident List is to facilitate fast access to the Court to assist families during these times of crisis.
The Court can make orders about where children live, as well as orders for parental responsibility which will enable non-parent carers to make appropriate arrangements for children, including enrolling children in school and organising and consenting to medical treatment.
In order to be considered for the Critical Incident List, the Application to the Court must satisfy the following criteria:
- The applicant is a non-parent caring for the child or children;
- There is no parent available to care for the child or children as a result of death (including homicide), critical injury or incarceration relating to or resulting from a family violence incident;
- The applicant is seeking orders for parental responsibility to enable appropriate arrangements to be made for the child or children (for example, authorities to engage with schools and health care providers, and this may or may not include an order for the child or children to live with the applicant); and
- There are no existing final family law or state/territory child welfare orders in place which relate to the child or children’s care arrangements with a non-parent or allocating parental responsibility of the child/children to a non-parent.
Because of the nature of the Application, there is no requirement to file the usual Genuine Steps Certificate or Parenting Questionnaire. You do, however, need to apply for an exemption from filing the requisite Section 60i certificate (meaning that you have tried mediation) on the basis of urgency and set out those reasons in your supporting Affidavit.
The Court aims allocate a first listing date and time for the application before the Court within 7 business days, subject of course to the demand and availability of judicial resources.
The Critical Incident List is a welcomed initiative of the Court. If you or someone you know finds themselves in such unfortunate circumstances, do not hesitate to contact our office for advice.