Lawyers for parents and children

If you're applying for a Parenting Order or an Order to Settle a Dispute between Guardians, you can use a lawyer to help with certain parts of the process.

On this page:

Making urgent applications

If your application is urgent (made without notice), you can have a lawyer to help you apply for the Order and represent you in court.

Find out more about urgent help

Making standard applications

You can get a family lawyer’s advice at any time when you’re working out disagreements about caring for your children. But you need to do some things yourself in the early parts of some Family Court processes, like giving your documents to the Family Court (called filing your documents) and at some meetings (called conferences).

For other parts of the process, you can use a lawyer:

  • to help you fill out the court forms when applying for an Order or responding to an application for an Order
  • if a judge says you can have a lawyer at a settlement conference
  • to represent you if your case goes to a hearing (or in a directions conference or pre-hearing conference)
  • if your case is about someone taking children overseas without permission
  • if your case also involves other matters in the Family Court and not just disputes about caring for children.

At each step of the process, the court will tell you if you can use a lawyer. When you’re not allowed to use a lawyer, you’ll need to represent yourself.

Find out more about representing yourself at the Family Court

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Paying for legal help and advice

Family Legal Advice Service

If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get some legal advice and help for free through our Family Legal Advice Service. A lawyer from the Family Legal Advice Service will help you understand:

  • your rights and responsibilities with your children
  • your legal options for their care
  • what Family Justice services, including the Family Court, are available and how they can help.

You can get this help from the Family Legal Advice Service any time before going to court. The lawyer can also help you to fill out the court forms if you're applying for a Parenting Order or responding to an application for an Order. 

If you need further advice, you’ll need to pay the Family Legal Advice Service lawyer or another lawyer for that advice.

Find out if you qualify for the Family Legal Advice Service

Find an approved Family Legal Advice Service lawyer

Other legal help and advice

You may also be able to get legal aid, which is where the government pays for a lawyer for eligible people once their case is in court.

Find out more about legal aid or free community legal help.

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Lawyer for the child

The judge can appoint a lawyer for a child at any stage if they think it’s needed (for example, if they’re concerned about the child’s safety or wellbeing).

The judge can also appoint a lawyer to help the court if there are particular legal issues to be considered.

You and the other people involved in your case may have to pay some of the costs of a lawyer for a child or a lawyer to help the court. Paying for these costs is called a Cost Contribution Order.

Find out more about Cost Contribution Orders