Victoria Legal Aid

Family law

We provide information, advice and representation for families, children and young people that support families to make decisions that put children first.

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

Our vision is that the Victorian child protection system advances children's best interests.

We work to achieve this by ensuring that people (particularly children, young people and parents) affected by decisions or actions of the child protection system are:

  • informed
  • supported to participate, or have a voice, in decisions that affect them
  • have their rights protected and upheld
  • and are treated fairly and according to law.

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.

Independent Family Advocacy and Support

Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) is a pilot service that provides non-legal advocacy and support to parents and primary carers who are involved in the child protection system at the early stages. Our dedicated advocates work with people to identify what they need, how to get there and support them to understand their rights and responsibilities in the system. Learn more about Independent Family Advocacy and Support.

Child support

Our priorities are to improve the financial security of parents and the wellbeing of their children, and to ensure that family violence, particularly in the form of economic and system abuse, does not continue to be perpetrated post-separation.

We provide legal help in:

  • child support and adult child maintenance to ensure that children of separated parents are financially supported in accordance with the law
  • spousal maintenance where a separated person is unable to adequately support themselves, and their former partner has capacity to pay.

We have established our first legal and financial counselling partnership at Victoria Legal Aid, through a pilot with Good Shepherd Australia.

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.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 22 May 2024

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