Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of assistance to an adult for litigation in a parenting dispute to:
- apply for or respond to an application for a parenting order
- apply for or respond to an application to existing parenting orders
- apply for or respond to an application for contravention or enforcement of parenting orders or for
- the following threshold tests are met:
and the person is either
- allegations have been made that indicate there is a risk to the wellbeing and/or safety of the from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.
In order to satisfy this criteria, the level of risk must be such that there is a likelihood that orders will be made that either:
- result in a significantly limited relationship between the and one or more of the parties
- change residential arrangements for the .
- where the person applying for assistance is the person who is making the application to the court, there is evidence kept on the file showing:
Being issued with a required section 60I certificate doesn't always mean that a grant of assistance to attend the is inappropriate. Even where a section 60I certificate has been issued, the lawyer must consider whether attendance at FDRS is appropriate and could help the parties to resolve the dispute, before applying for a litigation grant. This doesn't apply if the matter is an urgent matter.
Other mandatory requirements
As well as the requirements set out in Guideline 1.3, additional criteria apply in the following circumstances:
Where a person is not a parent of the child
Legal assistance in parenting matters is most commonly granted to one or both of the parents of the child. Where the person is not a parent of the child, VLA must also be satisfied that:
- the person is
- it is in the for the person to be granted legal assistance in relation to the dispute.
In determining the best interests of the child, where there are state child protection orders in place or child welfare proceedings on foot, we may grant assistance to a person who is not a parent of the child where the orders or proposed orders are in favour of that person.
Discharge or vary orders
If the 'significant change in circumstances' has been caused by the applicant, we will consider the circumstances surrounding that change in deciding whether it is appropriate to make a grant of legal assistance to the applicant.
Contravention or c ontempt of court
The following applies to grants of assistance for contravention and contempt proceedings:
- In matters involving contempt of court, where the person applying for assistance is alleged to be the person who has contravened the order, the severity of any penalty which may be imposed is relevant in determining whether the request for assistance meets the .
- In matters involving contravention, the request for assistance should be made without unreasonable delay after the orders have been contravened.
- The person applying for assistance must seek a against the other party from the court. If the other party also has a grant of assistance in the matter, this condition does not apply.
- We treat grants of assistance for contravention and contempt of court proceedings as a for the purposes of . This means we will not include the amount of the grant when calculating the for the substantive matter.
Ongoing assessment that client meets the guidelines
When a stage 2C or 2E grant is available
Where a person qualifies for assistance under this guideline and the matter is deemed urgent under points 2 to 7 of the definition of urgent matter, the stage 2C grant or 2E grant, is available.
When a stage 2B grant is available
- Where a person qualifies for assistance under this guideline and the matter is deemed urgent solely under point 1 of the definition of , ie the urgency relates only to the need to recover the child, the stage 2B grant is available.
- Where subsequent to being granted assistance, the parenting issues can be deemed urgent under any of points 2 to 7 of the definition of urgent matter, the lawyer can request an extension for a 2E grant.
- Under a stage 2B grant, where proceedings for the recovery of the child are concluded and there are other parenting issues remaining to be resolved, the lawyer is not automatically entitled to claim subsequent appearance fees to resolve the parenting issues.
- Where the parenting issues remaining to be resolved cannot be deemed urgent under any of points 2 to 7 of the definition of urgent matter, the lawyer must refer the parties to our Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS). The lawyer should recommend applying for a stage 1B grant (Preparation for early intervention FDRS).
- The Recovery order flowchart, available in the sets out the fee pathways available under this guideline.
Costs where an independent children’s lawyer is appointed
Notes on this guideline
Reviewed 19 April 2023