Notes on Guideline 5.4 – FDRS in adult child maintenance matters

Notes on Guideline 5.4 – FDRS in adult child maintenance matters

Note: The following information provides guidance on how to interpret and apply guideline 5.4 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.

Where a grant of assistance is made for family dispute resolution, the service must be provided by our Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS).

For more information relating to Victoria Legal Aid's (VLA’s) FDRS, see Important information about FDRS.

(a) Eligibility ​criteria

Assistance may be available under this guideline where criterion A and B are met.

Criterion A

Refer to notes linked to Guideline 5.1, criterion A.

Criterion B

Refer to the notes linked to the following threshold tests:

and to the following supplementary information.

Commonwealth merits test and child support matters

When assessing the cost/benefit of an application for assistance under this guideline, the lawyer must take into account:

  • the financial position of the applicant, the respondent and the children.

Where there is no apparent capacity of the payer parent to pay substantially increased maintenance or the application will result in only a slight increase to maintenance, this may not warrant funding, given the expected costs of legal action;

  • the duration of the payments. Maintenance for only a short period (eg when a child is about to turn 18) may not justify the cost of taking action.
  • where arrears are sought, the amount of the arrears or debt. Arrears of $200 debt will not justify the cost of taking action.

(b) Other mandatory requirements

Discharge or vary orders

Refer to the notes linked to the definition of significant change in circumstances.

(c) Grants assessment process

Applications for assistance under this guideline must be lodged via ATLAS using the ‘simplified process FDRS & stage 2’ template, making the following selections:

  • in the matters screen, select ‘maintenance’ under matter group and then the appropriate matter type
  • under ‘court hearings’, select ‘no court proceedings’
  • under costs and disbursements, select the required funding, depending on the matter type.

If the lawyer needs to provide additional information, this should be done by using the ‘submit correspondence’ function.

(d) Documentary requirements

The lawyer’s file must contain a file note that makes clear:

  • attempts made by the client to obtain assistance from Victoria Legal Aid's Child Support Legal Service or a community legal centre (CLC).

The Child Support Legal Service will provide a letter or referral email if they are unable to assist. If the client has does not have correspondence from the CLC where assistance was sought, a file note should be created noting the time and date of the appointment or phone call and the person that the client spoke to, or:

  • how the matter meets each of the thresholds tests
  • details as to the other party’s capacity to pay
  • where discharge or vary is sought, how the significant change in circumstances is met

The file should also contain all other relevant notes, supporting evidence and documents.

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a family law worksheet.

(e) Fees and billing

Stage 1 of fee table 4.1 sets out the fees available and the conditions attaching to grants under this guideline.