The Family Law Courts are some of the busiest Courts in Australia. The Townsville Family Law Courts (which hear matters from all over north and north-west Queensland) are no exception.
The high case load of the Courts often results in a backlog, which can in turn cause substantial delays, especially where a matter is not deemed by the Court to be urgent. Some matters take years – not months – to be finalised by the Court.
Of course, in the eyes of litigants all matters are urgent; people want their problems resolved sooner rather than later so they can move on with their lives. This is especially so when it comes to children. And who can blame litigants, and particularly parents for wanting to resolve things quickly? After all, an efficient resolution is not only best for the parents, but it is often best for children who may otherwise be embroiled in a heated, long-running custody dispute.
If a Court does deem a matter as being urgent, the matter may be fast-tracked through the Court.
So when will a Family Law Court see a parenting matter as urgent? There is not a definitive list of what constitutes an urgent parenting matter, but some common examples include where:
- a parent absconds with a child from a child’s usual place of residence;
- there is a risk a parent will take a child overseas and not come back;
- a child is at a risk of harm; and where
- a parent has been exposed to domestic violence, and is at risk of continuing to be exposed to domestic violence because of particular parenting arrangements.
Sometimes, matters which actually are urgent are deemed not to be urgent by the Court simply because the urgency hasn’t been adequately articulated. For that reason (and a myriad of other reasons), it pays to retain an experienced family lawyer to properly convey urgency to the Court.
This article was published by Kyle Barram on 29 February 2016. Kyle is a family lawyer practising out of our Townsville Office.