Family law guideline changes

Family law guideline changes

Note: this page provides only basic information on changes to the family law guidelines. Practitioners should refer to the VLA Handbook for lawyers for the relevant guidelines.

Changes on 1 March 2016

On 1 March 2016, amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 came into effect. The amendments are significant and will change the way child protection matters are handled by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Children’s Court.

In response to these amendments, changes have been made to the state family guidelines to help ensure that children and young people’s voices can still be heard and families do not miss out on legal assistance and support at critical times because of changes to the law.

These changes are:

  • the criteria for funding protection application matters has changed to require a parent to have reasonable prospects of the child being placed in their care
  • there is an additional ground for funding interim accommodation order contested hearings
  • legal assistance may be provided to appeal or respond to an appeal against an interim accommodation order in specific circumstances
  • legal assistance may be provided for an internal review of a case planning decision
  • legal assistance may be provided for an external review of a case planning decision (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal)
  • legal assistance may be provided for a parent or child to initiate, or respond to, an application to revoke a family reunification order where there are reasonable prospects of the child/ren being immediately placed in the care of a parent.

In addition to these guideline changes, we may also fund additional interim accommodation order appearances where Department of Health and Human Services proposes out-of-home care and there are reasonable prospects of reunification in specific circumstances.

See the new state family guidelines.

For more information about these changes, including the consultation process we undertook to help inform the changes, see Child protection guideline changes.

Changes on 30 October 2015

From 30 October 2015, the first guideline changes arising out of the Family Law Legal Aid Services Review were implemented. The changes included:

  • a limited advice and negotiation grant will be available
  • changed priority for litigation funding
  • reintroduction of trial funding
  • limited litigation grants for property matters in specific circumstances
  • allowance for litigation grants for respondents to court applications in specific circumstances
  • amendment to the guideline removing eligibility for aid where the applicant for assistance has breached Victorian family violence safety notices or intervention orders
  • a grant for disbursements for independent children’s lawyers seeking assessment reports in specific circumstances
  • a limited grant for independent children’s lawyers to instruct in proceedings will be introduced
  • the guideline which existed prior to 30 October 2015 which required independent children's lawyers to appear at final hearings as solicitor advocate has been amended to continue to allow for, but, no longer require, independent children's lawyers to appear.

More information

Refer to Archived versions of the Handbook for a list of changes over time to the VLA Handbook for Lawyers. 

Contact

If you have any questions about the new eligibility criteria for family law, please call Victoria Legal Aid's Assignments Family Law Team on (03) 9606 5355.