From 1 January 2020, Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) has received Commonwealth funding to provide lawyer-assisted family law mediation and arbitration to resolve less complex property disputes for people not eligible for legal aid or unable to afford legal representation.
The family law property mediation grant pilot will be available for 2 years and applies to separated, married and defacto couples.
What does the grant cover?
The maximum net equity of disputed property is currently $400,000. Under the pilot, this has now been increased to $500,000 excluding superannuation (with no limit on superannuation).
The pilot will also include funding matters where the applicant’s net claim is $250,000 excluding superannuation of a larger property dispute. For example, where there is a short marriage.
The current requirement for property funding is that the applicant for assistance is also seeking resolution of another related family law matter. This requirement will not apply under the pilot.
Currently, only one party needs to be represented in LAQ property mediation (being the legally aided party). Under the pilot, both parties must be represented. The second party has the option of receiving legal aid (if eligible) or engaging a private lawyer.
When making an application, the existing assets test does not apply, but the current income test will continue to apply.
The pilot covers small, less complex property disputes, and exclusions relating to matters involving business or commercial ventures will still apply. Trusts and negative equity (debt) will not be eligible under the pilot.
How to apply
To apply for a grant:
- complete and return a Legal Aid Queensland application form; and
- provide proof of income (as set out in in the application form).
If applying through a preferred supplier or support service, it is recommended that applications are made after mid-December 2019, and marked “property pilot”.
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