Fact #2 – Legal aid is not just for parents

Fact #2 – Legal aid is not just for parents

Thursday, 13 July 2017

We are providing a series of facts about family law legal aid. Fact #2 – Legal aid is not just for parents.

Most family law legal aid grants go to parents who can’t agree about parenting after separation, but legal aid is also available for other kinds of family law issues, for people other than parents and for different kinds of legal services.

The law says Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) must use legal aid money in an 'efficient and equitable' way. Our grant guidelines are the way we make sure we help the people who need it most, based on their financial situation, their legal problem and their individual circumstances. Funding for court hearings is for the most serious and urgent matters.

Who can get grants of aid, and for what

What’s the legal issue?

We help with these family law issues governed by federal law:

To be eligible for a grant of aid for any of these issues, there must be a ‘substantial issue in dispute’. For example, in disputes about children’s living arrangements, there must be something more than a disagreement about where the child spends their birthday or who pays for the petrol when they travel to the other parent’s place. 

Aid is also available in family-related legal matters under state law. These include:

What’s your role?

People who are not parents can sometimes get legal aid too. This includes grandparents and other family members or other significant people in children’s lives.

Children can sometimes have an Independent Children’s Lawyer representing their interests or can be represented as a party.

Legal aid can also be provided to children and people other than parents for child protection and family violence intervention order matters.

The personal and financial circumstances of a person are important when deciding if they will get legal aid. Depending on the kind of dispute they need help with, we prioritise helping people who meet our means test and who also face particular disadvantage because of disability, cultural or language barriers, or other personal vulnerabilities. Children don’t have to meet the means test or any other financial criteria.

What kind of help do you need?

As well as getting advice over the phone and from a duty lawyer at court, it’s possible to get legal aid for a lawyer to give you advice and negotiate on your behalf, to represent you at a mediation session at VLA’s Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS), and, if the dispute still isn’t resolved, to represent you at court, including in trials.

More Information

If you have an enquiry about a grant of legal assistance, contact Victoria Legal Aid’s Assignments team

Read our other facts about family law.