Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline 6.1 – advice and negotiation in spousal maintenance disputes


Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of assistance for advice and negotiation in a dispute relating to spousal maintenance under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)External Link or the Family Law Act 1997 (WA) where:

  1. the person does not have an existing grant of assistance relating to the current dispute
  2. the lawyer considers that the dispute may be resolved through advice, negotiation and exchange of letters
  3. the following threshold tests are met:

Other mandatory requirements

As well as the requirements set out in Guideline 6.1, additional criteria apply in the following circumstances:

Discharge or vary

Where the person is applying for assistance to discharge or vary existing orders, in addition to the criteria, there must have been a significant change in circumstances since the order was made.

If the significant change in circumstances has been caused by the person seeking assistance, VLA will consider the circumstances surrounding that change in deciding whether it is appropriate to make a grant of legal assistance.

Where assistance is sought to discharge or vary a spousal maintenance order, unless the matter is urgent, the lawyer should first consider whether a grant for family dispute resolution should be made.

Documentary requirements

Applications for assistance under this guideline are within the simplified grants process and are submitted through ATLAS. Lawyers submitting an application must ensure that evidence supporting the application is kept on the file.

Fees available

For information about fees available for a grant under this guideline, see Fee table 4.1.

Notes on this guideline

For commentary and examples on the eligibility criteria, grants assessment process, documentary requirements and fees and billing relevant to this guideline, see the Notes on guideline 6.1.

Reviewed 20 April 2023

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