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Guideline 2 - Family Dispute Resolution (FDR Services)

Legal Aid Queensland will consider funding a parenting matter to a lawyer assisted Family Dispute Resolution Conference where there is a dispute about a substantial issue concerning:

  • the child's safety or welfare,
  • who the child lives with, or
  • the child's right to spend time with their parents or significant others.

Even if it is determined that there is a dispute about a substantial issue, the applicant must still meet the means test, other relevant guidelines and merits tests.

Alternative non lawyer assisted family dispute resolution services are available through Commonwealth funded family relationship centres. You can access further information about these services through their website.

Disputes about the child's safety or welfare

Legal Aid Queensland may consider there is a dispute about a substantial issue in relation to a child's safety or welfare where:

  • The child is or would be spending time with a person who has been convicted of sexual offences relating to a child.
  • The other party has been charged with a criminal offence relating to the child and a child welfare authority has not commenced proceedings.
  • The other party has been charged with or convicted of serious criminal offences where the applicant was the victim and a child welfare authority has not commenced proceedings.
  • A child welfare authority has investigated a report/s of alleged harm and has found that the child is no longer at risk but there is evidence to support that the child was at risk whilst in a party’s care.
  • The other party has removed a baby that is still being breastfed from their mother.
  • The applicant for aid is a victim of domestic and family violence and has obtained a protection order naming the applicant and the child / children as protected persons. The protection order also provides for an ouster order against the respondent. There are no parenting orders in place and the applicant is seeking parenting orders to protect the child / children safety or welfare in relation to the time they spend with the other party. Due to the nature of the relationship and/or protection order conditions there is no contact between the parties.
  • The parties cannot agree whether a child receives medical treatment or a medical procedure due to religious/cultural beliefs/personal belief systems.
  • The child has been diagnosed with a medical condition and one of the parties is refusing to provide treatment whilst in their care.
  • The child lives with the other party and is not attending school or being encouraged to attend school.
  • The child lives with the other party and is constantly changing schools.
  • The child has a special need that requires their carer to be trained in order to adequately care for the child and the other party who is requesting to spend overnight time with the child has not received such training.
  • The child lives with the applicant but spends overnight time with the other party. The other party lives in conditions that are unsuitable and unsafe for a child to live in which puts them in immediate danger.

Legal Aid Queensland does not consider there is a dispute about a substantial issue in relation to the child’s safety or welfare where:

  • A child welfare authority has investigated a report of alleged harm and has found the report to be unsubstantiated.
  • A child welfare authority has commenced proceedings and is protecting the child’s safety or welfare.
  • Where the parties cannot agree which school the child should attend.
  • One party considers that the other party does not support the child to complete their homework.

Disputes about who a child lives with

Legal Aid Queensland may consider that there is a dispute about a substantial issue in relation to who a child lives with when:

  • The child has recently been removed from or not returned to the applicant’s care. The child has lived with the applicant since separation or for a significant period of time and the applicant is seeking for the child to be returned to their care.
  • The child lives with the other party and the applicant is seeking for the child to live with them as the current living arrangements are no longer in the best interests of the child.
  • The child lives with the applicant and has been served with court documents from the other party seeking that the child lives with them.
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances since the decision as to who the child lives with was agreed to or ordered which makes the current agreement or order no longer in the best interests of the child.
  • The applicant is a victim of domestic and family violence and has left their place of residence (with or without the child). The applicant is seeking for the child to live with them and there is no contact between the parties due to the nature of the relationship.
  • The child lives with a family member other than the parents. There is no order in place which provides them with parental responsibility and the applicant is seeking an order to give them parental responsibility.

Legal Aid Queensland does not consider there is a dispute about a substantial issue in relation to who the child lives with when:

  • The parties are in agreement as to where the child should live.
  • The party the child lives with is seeking an order to formalise the agreed arrangements.
  • One of the parties is incarcerated.
  • The child has made a decision as to who they wish to live with and due to their age and maturity have sufficient capacity to make such a decision and it is therefore likely that any Court decision would reflect their wishes.

Disputes about a child’s right to spend time with their parents or significant others

Legal Aid Queensland may consider there is dispute about a substantial issue in relation to a child’s right to spend time with their parents or significant others when:

  • A party has been denied time and communication with the child they have previously had a meaningful relationship with, and:
  • there is no order in place which prevents time and communication, and
    • the party has made all reasonable attempts to secure time and communication, and
    • there appears to be no good reason for the party to be denied time and communication.
  • A party is only being offered supervised time with the child and there appears to be no reason for the time to be supervised.
  • A party is only being offered time during the day rather than overnight and there appears to be no good reason why overnight time cannot occur.
  • A party is only being offered time with the child with restrictive conditions to the extent that it prevents the party and the child from spending meaningful time together and there appears to be no good reason for this.
  • The child lives with the other party and they are seeking to relocate to another state or country or a significant distance within the same state which will significantly affect the child’s right to spend time with the applicant.
  • The child lives with the applicant and the applicant is seeking to relocate to another state or country or a significant distance within the same state and the other party does not agree to the relocation and it appears to be in the child’s best interests to relocate with the applicant.
  • The applicant is a victim of domestic and family violence and has left their place of residence without the child. The applicant is seeking to spend time with the child and there is no contact between the parties due to the nature of the relationship.
  • The applicant is a victim of domestic and family violence and has left their place of residence with the child. The applicant is seeking assistance in relation to the other party’s time with the child and there is no contact between the parties due to the nature of the relationship.

Legal Aid Queensland does not consider there is a dispute about a substantial issue in relation to a child’s right to spend time with their parents or significant others when:

  • The child lives with the applicant and is not spending time with the other party. The other party has made no attempts to spend time with the child and the applicant is seeking that the other party spend time with the child.
  • All parties are currently spending a sufficient amount of time with the child to allow a meaningful relationship to occur.
  • The party being denied time with the child is currently incarcerated.
  • The dispute relates to how much time a child spends with each party during school holidays and special occasions, unless the party only spends time with the child during school holidays.
  • Where a reasonable offer of settlement has been made to the applicant about how much time they spend with the child.
  • Who the child also spends time with while in the other party’s care (providing there are no issues relating to safety).
  • Where one party considers that the place the child stays at whilst in the care of the other party is unsuitable (providing there are no issues relating to safety).
  • The dispute relates to:
    • who pays for:
      • school fees
      • uniforms
      • books
      • travel
      • extracurricular activities
      • clothing
      • hair cuts
      • food
    • whether a child attends a place of worship
    • what clothes and toys are kept with each party and who washes them
    • where the changeover is to occur (providing there are no issues relating to safety)
    • what time the child goes to bed
    • what the child eats
    • what activities the child does
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