Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Notes on Guideline 1.10 – FDRS for adults in combined parenting and property disputes

Note: The following information provides guidance on how to interpret and apply guideline 1.10 and should be read in conjunction with that guideline in the Handbook. Where there is any inconsistency between the following information and the guidelines, the guidelines will prevail.

Where a grant of assistance is made for family dispute resolution, the service must be provided by Victoria Legal Aid's (VLA’s) Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS).

For more information relating to our FDRS, see Important information about FDRS.

(a) Eligibility criteria

Assistance may be available under this guideline where criteria A and B are met.

Criterion A

The requirements of Guideline 1.2 must be satisfied. Refer to the notes under Guideline 1.2.

Criterion B

Assistance may be provided under this guideline in a matter that relates to a purely negative asset pool, ie debt alone, as well as a combination of debt and the various assets listed.

Where a matter involves both children’s issues and property, the matter must continue to have substantial issues in dispute for both children’s issues and property issues throughout the life of the grant. Where the children’s issues resolve, further funding is not available to continue property proceedings.

(b) Grants assessment process

An application must be lodged via ATLAS using the ‘simplified process – FDRS & stage 2’ template, making the following selections:

  • under matter type, select ‘children’s matter’ as the primary matter type and ‘property’ as the subsequent matter type
  • under court hearing, select ‘no court proceedings’
  • under professional costs, select ‘stage 1 FDRS – combined parenting and property’.

Where FDRS or litigation funding has been recommended but no claims have been made, and the lawyer forms the view that funding should instead be in place only for advice and negotiation, this should be requested in a new application. The lawyer should submit correspondence on the first file advising that an advice and negotiation grant will be requested on a fresh application, and ensure that the previous file is closed by submitting a file outcome via ATLAS.

If the lawyer needs to provide additional information, this should be done using the ‘submit correspondence’ function.

If the property proceedings are not sought with the original FDRS application, the lawyer may submit an extension following the steps and selecting the ‘FDRS uplift fee’ in the professional costs screen. This will allow for the additional preparation payable for combined parenting and property matters.

(c) Documentary requirements

The lawyer’s file must contain a file note that makes clear:

  • how Guideline 1.2 is met;
  • an estimate of the parties’ assets and liabilities (including superannuation), with documentary evidence to support the estimate;
  • documentary evidence that the applicant for assistance has an equitable interest of $500,000 or less in the family home;
  • that either party is seeking to retain the family home and that the applicant for assistance will receive no payment in relation to the family home;

The file should also contain all other relevant notes, supporting evidence and documents.

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a family law worksheet.

(d) Fees and billing

Refer to notes under Guideline 1.2, Fees and billing.

Where assistance is granted for both parenting and property issues at FDRS, the lawyer is entitled to a higher preparation fee.

A disbursement for a superannuation split certificate is also available, where applicable.

If a grant was made for advice and negotiation in the matter and the grant was used, the lawyer will only be entitled to a reduced preparation fee under the first subsequent grant (extension 1), whether it be for FDRS or litigation.

The lawyer must claim the ‘Family Law Prep Where Advice and Negotiations Claimed’ fee on extension 1 rather than the full preparation fee.

Reviewed 24 January 2022