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Policy Bulletin 4 / 18 (Family Law Policy – Adoption matters)

3 Jul 2018

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved an amendment to the Family Law Policy in relation to Adoption matters. The amendment removes the “exceptional circumstances” test for applicants who are respondents in adoption proceedings, and clarifies that legal aid is available to children where the court has made an order for separate representation.

Background

The Legal Aid NSW adoption policy was implemented in 1987 and has never been amended. Currently, to be eligible for an adoption matter an applicant must satisfy the means and merit tests, and Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied there are exceptional circumstances. The policy does not define what constitutes exceptional circumstances, which has meant that vulnerable birth parents (and grandparents and siblings) who wish to respond to adoption proceedings are often not aware legal aid is available. For this reason, the Board has approved amending the policy to make it clear legal aid is available to a birth parent (grandparent or sibling) who are respondents in adoption proceedings.

The amendment now makes it clear that legal aid is available for separate representation of children in adoption proceedings where the Court makes an order for separate representation of the children.

What has changed?

Legal aid is available to birth parents (and grandparents and siblings) who wish to respond to an application for an adoption order subject to the means and merit tests.

Legal aid is available for the separate representation of children in adoption proceedings.

See Policy Online at Family Law Policy 5.16 .

Commencement date

The change applies to applications for legal aid determined on or after 2 July 2018.

Contact for further information

Please contact the In-house Counsel Unit for any questions about the change on legalpolicy@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or contact Aideen McGarrigle on 9219 5701.