Guideline 6 – child support and child maintenance

Guideline 6 – child support and child maintenance

A grant of legal assistance under this guideline should usually be limited to administrative remedies under child support legislation, and to proceedings in State or Territory magistrates’ or local courts, or the Federal Circuit Court, unless such proceedings are unavailable.

The applicant for legal assistance must seek assistance for child support or child maintenance matters from Victoria Legal Aid's (VLA’s) Child Support Legal Service or a community legal centre in the first instance (see below).

VLA will not make a grant of legal assistance to a lawyer unless the applicant for legal assistance is unable to obtain appropriate assistance from VLA’s Child Support Legal Service or a community legal centre, or there are compelling circumstances (for example, the lawyer is also acting for the applicant in a parenting matter for which legal assistance has been granted).

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

6.1 – assistance for child support matters

VLA may make a grant of legal assistance for an application to a court under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 or the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.

6.2 – Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) review of Child Support Agency decisions

If a person’s circumstances affect their ability to adequately represent themselves, VLA may make a grant of legal assistance in relation to any of the following:

  • appeals under the child support legislation to the SSAT for review of a Child Support Agency decision
  • appeals under the child support legislation to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a decision of the SSAT
  • an appeal under the child support legislation from a decision of the SSAT to a court on a question of law.

6.3 – assistance for child maintenance matters

VLA may make a grant of legal assistance in relation to a child maintenance matter under the Family Law Act 1975 in order to:

  • apply for, or respond to, an application for a child maintenance order
  • apply for, or respond to, an application to vary a child maintenance order or agreement.

6.4 – assistance for applicant children

VLA may make a grant of legal assistance to a child for a child support matter only if the child is the most appropriate person to seek the order.

6.5 – assistance for applicant adult children

VLA may make a grant of legal assistance to an adult child (aged 18 years or older) or to a parent of an adult child seeking a child maintenance order under section 66L of the Family Law Act where the child has a disability or where VLA is satisfied that the child needs financial assistance to continue his/her tertiary education.

VLA’s Child Support Legal Service

VLA has a Child Support Legal Service to help eligible parents who have legal problems in relation to receiving or paying child maintenance or child support.

The Child Support Legal Service regularly visits VLA offices and most major regional centres. The service may also help people by telephone.

The Child Support Legal Service can help eligible people by:

  • giving advice
  • preparing documents
  • representing people in court.

For more information see Child Support Legal Service.

Community legal centres

The following community legal centres provide a similar child support service: