Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Note: The lawyer is not required to assess eligibility under this guideline. Grants under this guideline are assessed by us and allocated to lawyers on the independent children's lawyer (ICL) panel.

The following information provides guidance on how to interpret and apply guideline 1.5 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.

For more information relating to our Family Dispute Resolution Service (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 and B

The decision as to whether it is reasonable to make a grant of assistance for an ICL in a matter is made by the practice area at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and not by Grants and Quality Assurance.

The decision takes into account, but is not limited to, the decision of the Full Court of the Family Court in In the Matter Of: Re K Appeal [1994] FamCA 21.

Possibility of FDR by another FDR service

Prior to recommending assistance for litigation intervention FDRS, where:

  • the ICL is the only legally assisted party, and
  • one or both of the other parties appear to have the means to fund private FDR,

the ICL should first suggest to the parties that they initiate FDR with a private provider. VLA may provide assistance to the ICL to participate in private FDR.

Where the ICL has considered the above, and determines that FDR is unlikely to proceed through a private provider, or is not appropriate, VLA may provide assistance to the ICL to participate in FDR at our FDRS.

(b) Grants assessment process

Applications for assistance under this guideline are not within the simplified grants process (SGP) but are allocated to lawyers on the ICL panel.

Following allocation of the matter, VLA will put a grant of assistance in place through our online lodgement service ATLAS. Lawyers will then be able to submit extension applications via ATLAS in the usual way ensuring that evidence supporting the extension is kept on the file.

An ICL must request an extending for funding for stage 1D for litigation intervention FDRS, court-based DRC or private mediation (ICLs) (see Fee table 4.2). VLA will fund either participation in a court-based DRC or a litigation intervention FDRS or private mediation within a 12 month period, but not a combination of the three within that 12 month period.

The extension request for a stage 1D grant must be lodged via Atlas on the ‘Simplified Process – Independent Children’s Lawyer’ template, making the following selections:

  • under ‘court hearing’, select ‘yes’ and advise which court
  • under ‘professional costs’, select ‘FDRS – Litigation Intervention’ or 'court-based DRC' or 'private mediation' under the appropriate court.

(c) Documentary requirements

The lawyer’s file should contain the following:

  • a court order requiring the parties to participate in FDR, or
  • a file note by the ICL explaining why it has been assessed that a FDR conference or a convening of the parties may resolve the matter.

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

Stage 1D of Fee table 4.2 sets out the fees available and the conditions attaching to grants under this guideline. The following provides additional information:

The conference fee is also payable to an ICL where they participate in private FDR.

The Family Law Courts commenced court ordered Alternative Dispute Resolution Conferences in February 2021. Read more about the Fee for Dispute Resolution Conferences at Family Law CourtsExternal Link .

Reviewed 20 April 2023

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