Family law

Family law

Our work in family, youth and children’s law aims to help people resolve family disputes and achieve safe, workable and child-focused parenting and care arrangements. This also involves helping parents to build the capacity to resolve future disputes without legal assistance.

We offer free legal advice and in some cases dispute resolution, help at court, and legal representation. We prioritise children and adults who face serious issues that affect their children, and we strive to keep families out of court.

As well as helping individual clients, we advocate for justice and law reform to improve the way laws operate and impact on families.

Our work in family, youth and children’s law has six main focus areas. Services offered within these areas are delivered either by our in-house lawyers or private practitioners working in partnership with us.

Child protection

We assist children, young people and parents responding to child protection applications by the state by helping to ensure that any legal intervention is limited to that which is necessary to promote the child’s or young person's health, safety and wellbeing.

We provide legal information, advice and representation, as well as community legal education designed to help protect and promote the rights of children, young people and parents before, during and after child protection proceedings.

Child support

We work to ensure that children of separated parents are financially supported in accordance with the law. In cases where a separated person is unable to adequately support themselves, and their former partner has capacity to pay, we work towards a solution of financial support and the fair distribution of assets and liabilities.

We also ensure that liable parents have access to independent legal advice and representation where appropriate.

Family dispute resolution

We provide timely, legally assisted family dispute resolution services to vulnerable people. We assist separated families to meet the best interests of their children by providing case management, assessment, preparation and referral (including to our child-inclusive Kids Talk program where appropriate), and by holding conferences facilitated by experienced chairpersons.

For more information see Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service.

Family violence

We contribute to the safety of adults and children impacted by family violence and assist in reducing the incidence of family violence by providing legal information, advice and representation to affected adults and children. This includes acting for clients at the Family Law Courts, the Children’s Court and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

We also contribute to public debate about policies and practices of Australian courts and governments in relation to family violence.

Independent children's lawyers

We provide assistance in Family Law Court proceedings to children at risk of harm due to the conduct of one or both parents. We aim to ensure that judicial officers make good decisions based on the best available evidence and that arrangements ordered by the court are in the children’s best interests.

Parenting disputes

We provide information, advice and representation to separating or separated couples who are in dispute about their children’s living and care arrangements.

For high-conflict families who have been unable to resolve children’s issues through family dispute resolution services, we may assist with access to the Family Law Courts.

Our aim is to achieve safe, workable and child-focused parenting and care arrangements.

More information 

Read our Facts about family law that help people better understand family law at Victoria Legal Aid.