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The Impact of the COVID-19 Measures on Your Family Law Court Case in Singapore

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 What happens to your family law court case in Family Justice Court as a result of the coronavirus measures announced on 3 April 2020?

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The Impact of the Coronavirus Measures on Your Family Court Cases in Singapore

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What happens to your family law court case in Family Justice Court as a result of the COVID-19 measures announced on 3 April 2020?

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The coronavirus pandemic is causing unprecedented upheavals all over the world.

On 3 April 2020, the Prime Minister and the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced the implementation of a set of elevated safe distancing measures to pre-empt the trend of increasing local transmission of COVID-19. These measures, including the suspension of business activities, are intended to significantly reduce physical movements and interactions in public and private places. Other than essential services and their related supply chains and service providers, all other business, social, or other activities that cannot be conducted through telecommuting or other means from home shall be suspended from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (both dates inclusive).

Life in Singapore will hit a standstill from Tuesday, for four weeks till 4 May 2020. Most offices will close on 7 April 2020, followed by all schools on 8 April 2020. Only essential services may remain open. Singapore is putting in place its most serious ‘circuit breaker’ yet, to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections.

The situation is fast moving.

For those of you who have family law court cases in the Family Justice Court, you may be asking:

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What happens to my family law court hearing (divorce, probate, adoption, family violence, maintenance) that is scheduled to be heard between 7 April to 4 May 2020?  Can I file any application for divorce or maintenance during this Period?

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On Sunday 5 April 2020, the Family Justice Courts issued Registrar’s Circular No. 2.  This provides important court updates on how the Family Justice Court will be operating from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020.

To assist you, here is a summary prepared by the family lawyers at PKWA Law:

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Question:  Is the Family Justice Court hearing cases during this Period from 7 April to 4 May 2020?

From 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020, the Family Justice Court will hear only matters that are considered “essential and urgent.”

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Question:  What happens to all other hearings?

Every matter scheduled for hearing in the Family Justice Courts (“FJC”) from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (the “Relevant Period”) will be adjourned to a date to be fixed, unless the matter is assessed to be essential and urgent.

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Question:  What are matters that may be considered to be essential and urgent?

Matters that are considered to be “essential and urgent” are:

a.  matters which are time sensitive;

b.  constitute a threat to life and liberty;

c. involve urgent needs of the family.

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Question:   Is it very likely that my court hearing for my divorce, probate or adoption matter that takes place during the Relevant Period will be postponed?
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Yes, your hearing will be adjourned for at least 4 weeks.  Only cases that are “essential and urgent” will be heard.  It is best you check with your family lawyer.

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Question:  What about family law cases that are fixed for hearing after the Relevant Period?

All matters scheduled for hearing after the Relevant Period will continue as scheduled for now.

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Question:  How are hearings conducted during the Relevant Period?

All hearings during Relevant Period will be conducted by video conferencing.

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Question:  Can I file a family violence complaint during this Period?

For family violence matters, applicants are strongly encouraged to reserve an appointment slot using iFAMS before attending in person at the FJC to file their complaint.  If you have a family violence case already in the courts, and your matter involves a higher risk of imminent danger to you, it will continue to be heard. For such cases, hearings will be conducted by video conferencing as far as possible.

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Question:  Can I seek file for maintenance during this Period?

For maintenance matters, applicants are strongly encouraged to reserve an appointment slot using iFAMS before attending in person at the FJC to file their complaint.

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Conclusion

In summary, from 7 April to 4 May 2020, all courts in Singapore including the Family Justice Courts will hear only essential and urgent matters. This direction applies to family law appeals, trials, applications (interlocutory or otherwise), case management conferences and pre-trial conferences.

All hearings other than those which are “essential and urgent” will be adjourned.

All family law matters that had been scheduled for hearing between 7 April and 4 May 2020 which the Court has not assessed to be essential and urgent will be adjourned for at least 4 weeks.

You will not be able to file any new case in the Family Court during this Period unless you fall within the exceptions.

If you already have a matter in the Family Court, of if you are thinking of filing one during the Period, you should always seek advice from your family lawyer as every case is different.  .If 

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only, and to enable you to learn more about our firm, our services and our lawyers.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers of this website should engage a lawyer to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

Pkwa law

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At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family and divorce lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review and Doyle’s Guide to Leading Singapore Family & Divorce Lawyers. 

Contact us at tel 6854-5336 or use the form below to arrange for a free first consultation. 

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