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LIV President's Blog
February 4, 2011

Family Law Eligibility Guidelines

The proposed new Family Law Eligibility Guidelines need to be carefully considered by all family lawyers. They contain positives, including funding for all court ordered Independent Children’s Lawyers. And there will be funding for ICLs to instruct Counsel at final hearings.
However there is no additional funding for family law overall. Only special needs adult clients are likely to qualify for funding if they have drug or alcohol or mental health issues and they still must meet the means and merits tests.    
We are concerned that the lack of funding for parents could lead to an inbalance of representation if one party in a dispute can afford private representation and the other side is unable to qualify for legal aid. This is likely to be most often women, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have been at home with the children and not working.
Special circumstances funding will still be available, but there will be no funding for divorces.
The assets test has been raised to $300,000 from $100,000.
There could be some limited funding for contravention of orders, such as denial of time spent with children. However, they will have to go through Roundtable Dispute Management first.
One of our concerns is that the proposals will lead to more self represented litigants at court.
The working group includes Family Law Section chair Jason Walker, deputy chair Stephen Gregory, Alison Trapski, Marlene Ebejer, Sarah Vessali, Angela Altavilla, Matthew Hall and Laura Muccitelli.
The eligibility guidelines (pdf) are open for comment until 11 March 2011.

You can also c
ontact Laura Muccitelli to contribute to the submission.

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