Means test guideline exemptions

Means test guideline exemptions

We know that there are some circumstances where a person is more disadvantaged or marginalised, or is experiencing a crisis, which can make it difficult to get access to a lawyer. Our exemptions to the means test guidelines take this into account.

Exemptions to supporting documentation

An applicant won’t have to provide supporting documentation if they:

  • are experiencing homelessness
  • are fleeing from or experiencing family violence
  • are seeking assistance for a bail application
  • reside in a remote area
  • are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • are in custody and have savings of $1,095 or less:
    • if they are released from custody while they have a grant of aid, they will have to provide supporting documents, unless one of the other factors above apply, or
  • are in custody and the matter is a summary case that will be heard within seven days:
    • if they are released from custody while they have a grant of aid, they will have to provide supporting documents, unless one of the other factors above apply.

When an application is made for a grant of aid, the applicant should tell us if one of these conditions apply.

Exemptions to the partner definition

An applicant won’t need to tell us about their partner and their partner’s income or assets if:

  • they have an opposing interest in the legal proceedings
  • the applicant has separated from them
  • they live overseas and aren’t earning income or don’t have assets
  • they are in prison or detention and don’t have assets
  • they have allegedly used family violence against the applicant either in this matter or in the past
  • the applicant has allegedly used family violence against them either in this matter or in the past
  • the applicant’s relationship with them may be damaged if they knew about the legal issue.

An applicant can also ask us not to consider their partner’s income or assets due to other compelling reasons. We can exercise discretion to do this.

If an applicant believes we should not consider their partners’ income or assets, they should tell us why they believe that.

Exemptions to the assets test

We will generally exempt an applicant (and if relevant, their partner’s) real property if they are over the age of 60, own a property with over $500,000 in equity and:

  • the applicant (and any relevant partner) receive an income-tested pension, allowance or benefit
  • the applicant (and any relevant partner) has:
    • lived in that home for five years or more, or
    • bought another home, because of disability or ill health.

If this applies, we will ask the applicant to let us place a caveat over this property so we can recover the legal costs spent when the applicant sells that property.

If an applicant is fleeing from or experiencing family violence, we generally won’t place a caveat over the family home.