Guideline 2 – parent, guardian or other interested person involved in a case in the Family Division of the Children’s Court

Guideline 2 – parent, guardian or other interested person involved in a case in the Family Division of the Children’s Court

Guideline 2.1 – Parent, Guardian or Third Party

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may provide a grant of legal assistance to a person for proceedings in the Children’s Court (Family Division) where:

or

  •  the person is not a parent (as defined in the Act) but the person is:
    • joined as a party to the proceeding; AND
    • VLA is satisfied that the circumstances of the case are exceptional.

That person may only obtain a grant of legal assistance where:

  • they are a parent in a protection application and have reasonable prospects of the child being placed in their care;
  • they oppose a breach application being proved; OR
  • they oppose a finding of irreconcilable difference; OR
  • they oppose an application to vary or extend an order; OR
  • the DHHS is applying for a care by secretary order, a long-term care order, or permanent care order; OR
  • for matters other than protection applications:
    • they seek an order different to an order recommended by DHHS (including an interim accommodation order); OR
    • they oppose certain conditions being made, or seek to include other conditions, in an order relating to a substantive issue which will significantly affect their lifestyle or their family’s lifestyle; OR
    • the parent is a child under the age of 18 years.

Where the matter is a protection application, parents who are seeking access only, or who are only seeking particular conditions in orders, will not meet this guideline (unless the parent is a child under the age of 18 years).

Information to assist practitioners with the grants application and assessment process and documentary requirements is set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines.

Guideline 2.2 – VLA may limit a grant for a final contested hearing

If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance for a final contested hearing, then VLA may limit the nature and extent of the assistance to:

  • specific issues
  • specific arguments
  • a specific number of days.

Guideline 2.3 – Interim Accommodation Order contested hearing

VLA may make a grant of legal assistance for an Interim Accommodation Order contested hearing where:

  • the specific issue to be contested at the hearing is who the child is to be placed with or a term or condition of the placement; OR
  • a parent is seeking a condition for time with the child, and that parent has reasonable prospects of that child being placed in their care within the legislated timeframe; OR
  • the child is younger than two years of age; OR
  • the parent is under the age of 18 years old.

A ‘question of placement’ includes:

  • where the child/ren are to live
  • with whom the child/ren are to live
  • the exclusion of parties from the residence in which the child/ren are to live.

Meanings

‘parent’— as defined in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

‘legislated timeframe’— as defined by the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, which provides that a family reunification order can be made for a period with the effect of a child being in court ordered out of home care for up to 12 months.  The order can only be extended where there is compelling evidence that reunification will occur within the extension period, and provided the extension will not have the effect of the child being in court-ordered out-of-home-care for more than 24mths.

Documentary requirements

Information to assist practitioners with the grants application and assessment process and documentary requirements is set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines.

Simplified grants assessment process

Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance via the simplified grants assessment process must submit an application via ATLAS, only after ensuring that the documents set out under the relevant guideline in Simplified Grants System: Notes on the Guidelines are retained on file (unless they are requested by VLA for assessment).

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a Children's Court (Family Division) worksheet for their file.