Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Notes on the contravention test

Persons who are found by a court within the last 12 months to have contravened a Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia order without reasonable excuse will not be eligible for a grant of legal assistance or will have their grant of legal assistance terminated.

The applicant may also have existing family law grants terminated.

If a contravention is found during the grant of assistance, the lawyer must advise VLA and the grant of assistance will be terminated.

The contravention test does not apply to the following:

  • independent representation of children
  • child litigants
  • international child abduction matters
  • special medical procedures involving children.

The question of whether the client had a reasonable excuse for breaching a family court order is for a judicial officer to decide. The ‘offence’ of contravention is proven, not only if the client is found to have breached the order, but they are found to have done so without reasonable excuse. ‘Without reasonable excuse’ is an integral part of the offence (ie the lawyer does not decide what a reasonable excuse is, the judicial officer who found the client guilty of the breach does).

Reviewed 14 February 2022