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5. Family Law Matters – when legal aid is available

5.6. Property settlement matters

Note: Where an applicant has a parenting and property matter, Legal Aid NSW expects that the proceedings will be conducted together. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, this means an applicant must be eligible for the property matter to be funded for the property and parenting matter. See Family Law Policy 5.6.2.

5.6.1 Property settlement matters

Legal aid is available in court proceedings for property settlement matters under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Unless the matter is urgent, the applicant must have a certificate issued by the Legal Aid NSW Family Dispute Resolution Unit under s60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in relation to the dispute.

To be eligible for legal aid the applicant must satisfy:

  • the Means Test
  • the Merit Test, and
    • the dispute relates to superannuation and/or the matrimonial or de facto home, the applicant will retain the home and the estimated equity in the home and/or deferred benefit is more than $20,000,


    • where the applicant is not retaining the home or the dispute relates to property other than the home or superannuation, the applicant’s  experience of domestic or family violence or disability is likely to impact on their ability to effectively negotiate a reasonable property settlement, or there are exceptional circumstances.

Note: All early intervention mediation for family law disputes is administered as an Early Resolution Assistance (ERA) service type and facilitated by the Legal Aid NSW Family Dispute Resolution Unit. For eligibility policies for mediation in parenting matters see: ERA early intervention mediation 1.2: Property

Note: legal aid is also available to applicants seeking to intervene as a third party in proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). See Civil Law Policy 6.4.2: proceedings to protect a person's interest in the home.

Note: Where legal aid is granted under Family Law Policy 5.6: property settlement after separation, Legal Aid NSW will not take into account any money recovered up to $52,000 when calculating the contribution to legal costs. Any amount in excess of $52,000 will be subject to the contributions policy (see Contributions Policy 11.3.5 and Contributions Guideline 5.5.3)

See Family Law Guideline 2.11 on grants of aid made in relation to preservation of property and where there is a risk the property may be disposed of.

5.6.2 Property settlement and parenting matters

Where an applicant for legal aid has a parenting matter and a property matter, legal aid will only be available for the parenting matter (Family Law Policy 5.3) where the applicant is also eligible for their property matter (Family Law Policy 5.6), unless there are exceptional circumstances (parenting and property).

Date Last Published: 05/12/2022