For legal aid to be granted for a social worker or psychologist to prepare an updated family report the following tests must be satisfied:
- The applicant for aid is the independent children’s lawyer (ICL), and
- There is a need for the ICL to continue their involvement in the matter, and
- Legal Aid Queensland has not previously provided funding for an updated family report to be prepared for these proceedings, and
- An updated family report is required in the matter to assist the court to be able to determine a current parenting application, and
- The matter:
- is listed for an interim hearing or a hearing where an interim parenting order is likely to be made, or
- trial directions have been made or
- is listed for trial, and
- There is a significant change of circumstances relevant to the parenting arrangements for the child/children such that an updated report is required, and
- There is no court order for preparation of a report by a single expert witness, court appointed expert or family consultant under section 62G of the Family Law Act 1975 (as amended), and
- The parties are funded by Legal Aid Queensland, cannot afford to pay for the report or have refused to pay for the report, and
- The request meets the merits test.
If a social worker or psychologist requests fees that exceed the scale of fees the request will be referred to a Grants Manager for consideration.
Requests for an interstate report writer are determined by the Assistant Director Grants.
Extension of aid requests received from preferred suppliers or in-house practitioners
When applying for an extension of aid for an updated family report the practitioner must lodge an extension of aid request through the Grants Online system with the appropriate information request.
Need for the ICL to continue their involvement
If at any time during the proceedings the ICL considers that the issues in dispute no longer warrants the involvement of an ICL aid should be requested to make an application to the court to be discharged.
Significant change of circumstances
Legal Aid Queensland may consider that there is a significant change of circumstances when:
- Another child is born/adopted to one of the parties to the proceedings.
- One or more of the parties to the proceedings is in a relationship with a new partner.
- The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have undertaken a new investigation.
- There is a new intervening party e.g. grandparent / kinship carer.
- One party has made an application for relocation of a child subject to these proceedings.
- A new major diagnosed health issue has arisen for one of the parties/child/children since the previous report.
- An assessment of substantial changes in parenting arrangements made by interim order in these proceedings (e.g. no time with, moving towards unsupervised or changes to live with arrangements) is required to determine the application.
Legal Aid Queensland does not consider that there is a significant change of circumstances when:
- A complaint has been made to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services that does not proceed to investigation.
- An amended interim order only deals with a requirement for supervised time.
Grant(s) of aid
The grant of aid for a social worker or psychologist to prepare an updated family report is FR2.
Review of decisions
A decision to refuse legal aid for this type of matter may be appealed to the external review officer (refer to review of decisions).