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Getting Free Legal Advice: The Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS)

April 11, 2017

Tiana called us recently with concerns about her son, Jarrod, who has lived with his father for a number of years. She was frustrated about a lack of information and consultation about Jarrod’s schooling. Tiana also wanted to secure more time caring for Jarrod. We were able to offer the Family Legal Advice Service (or FLAS) to Tiana. This enabled us to meet with her to provide initial free legal advice to her. During the initial advice session, we were able to help her develop a plan for resolving the issues about Jarrod’s care arrangements.

If you have an issue about the parenting or guardianship arrangements for your child then, like Tiana, you may qualify to receive some free legal advice under the Family Legal Advice Service.

The service is delivered in two parts. At the first session, you will receive legal advice about your responsibilities and options for resolving the issue, the factors a Court would consider if it were deciding the issue and the types of orders it may make. We are able to assist you to develop a plan for resolving the dispute and, if need be, refer you to the appropriate professionals to assist you with mediation (Family Dispute Resolution) and/or Parenting Through Separation.

If you try Family Dispute Resolution and are not able to resolve the issue there, you may wish to make an application to the Family Court. This is where the second part of the Family Legal Advice Service comes into play. We will assist you to fill out the application forms for your Court proceedings. You will usually need to file the proceedings after having received help to work out what forms you need to file and what information you need to include in them.

So, how do you know if the Family Legal Advice Service will be suitable for your situation? When you call us, we will assess your situation but generally, the Family Legal Advice Service will be appropriate if:

  • You meet the financial eligibility criteria. This is based on your income and the number of dependents you have. You can check here to see if you qualify. Your spouse or partner’s income is not taken into account but he or she must have no income to be considered a “dependent”. To be a dependent, your children do not need to live with you but you do need to be supporting their maintenance. For example, Jarrod was considered a dependent of Tiana’s because, even though he doesn’t primarily live with her, she does pay child support for him.;
  • The issue you need assistance with is one regarding the care arrangements or guardianship of children; and
  • There are no urgent issues requiring urgent Court intervention, for example: domestic violence or drug use. In these circumstances, legal advice will likely be available to you under Legal Aid if you are on a low income

FLAS must be provided by approved lawyers. At Family Law Results, we are approved to provide the service so give us a call on (09) 297 2010 if you wish to discuss the Family Legal Advice Service.

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