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Lawyers, costs and legal aid

You should speak to a lawyer before applying to a family court. If you can’t afford a private lawyer, you may be able to get legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland or a community legal centre.

You can choose to have a lawyer represent you in your family court case or you can represent yourself.

The law and court processes can be complex so you should get legal advice.

You may also be eligible for legal aid for representation.

Contact us for more information.

Seeing a lawyer

It’s a good idea to speak to an experienced family lawyer before making any important decisions. A lawyer can:

  • explain what you may be entitled to when dividing your property and your responsibilities and obligations when resolving your parenting arrangements
  • discuss your situation, which may involve complicated legal issues
  • tell you about issues you may not have thought about
  • help you to negotiate in a dispute.

Don’t rely on family and friends for legal advice.

Search for a lawyer in your area.

Representing yourself

You don’t have to use a lawyer for your court case — you can choose to represent yourself in court.If you can’t afford a lawyer and are not eligible for legal aid you may not have a choice. People representing themselves in court are called self-represented litigants.

If you represent yourself, you will need to know about the law and the court process.

It’s not easy representing yourself. You’ll need to do your research and preparation well before filing court documents and presenting a case in court. The Family Court of Australia website and Federal Circuit Court website has information for people representing themselves in court.

Legal Aid Queensland or a community legal centre can also give you information and advice.

Who pays the costs?

Legal costs

In family law cases, you usually pay your own legal costs and court fees. In some situations the court may order one side to pay the other side's costs. For example, see Federal Circuit Court Practice Direction No. 2 of 2017. You are usually only awarded costs if you've had to pay for a lawyer. You won't be awarded costs for your own time and effort.

Filing fee costs

You can apply to the family law courts for an exemption from paying court filing fees. Contact the court for more information.

Getting legal aid

If you've got a legal problem, you can get free legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland or a community legal centre.

If you need a lawyer, but can’t afford to pay, you may be eligible to apply for legal aid . This means we may pay some or all of your legal fees if your case and personal circumstances meet our guidelines, including ‘means’ and ‘merit’ tests.

The following lawyers do legal aid cases — search for a lawyer in your area .

If you’re not eligible for legal aid andyou still need legal representation (not just legal advice), contact the Queensland Law Society for a list of private family lawyers in your area.

Other legal help

Some lawyers are willing to help people with different parts of their legal case. For example they may be able to help with drafting your court documents even though you may choose to represent yourself. Alternatively they may help with negotiating on your behalf even though they don't formally represent you. These types of firms will help people who can't afford full representation. You should contact the Queensland Law Society for more information.

Related links and information

Last updated 17 July 2019

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