The A- Z of Family Law

In this week’s series on the A – Z of Family Law, Georgia takes a look at the letter L, covering the topics of Lawyers, Legal Aid and Limitation Periods.


The word ‘Lawyers’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the word ‘solicitor’. A Lawyers’ role as part of a family law matter is first and foremost to assist you in resolving your matter. Lawyers can provide you with discrete advice so you can go and negotiate your matter yourself. If you are unable to reach an agreement yourself, your lawyer will speak on your behalf and advocate for your position.

Legal Aid

Legal aid is a government-funded state body.  In NSW legal aid provides legal services to disadvantaged clients across most areas of criminal, family and civil law. Legal aid has lawyers working in-house but they can also outsource their work to lawyers, who sit on a legal aid panel.   To qualify as a legal aid client, you are required to complete a means and merit test. A means test will assess your income and your asset base. The merit test is you have to be seeking something that is within the range of what would be appropriate. For example, you cannot make ambit claims with no prospects of success. If you think you may be entitled to legal aid, there is an online means test calculator you can use to see if you qualify

Limitation period

A limitation period is essentially a date fixed by the legislation as to when you can or cannot do certain things, for example when you can file for divorce. In order to apply for a divorce, the parties involved must have been separated for a period of no less than twelve months.  If granted, a divorce order will then take effect one month and a day after the divorce is granted. Following that you only have one year in which to resolve your property application subject to exceptions.

If you have been in a de facto relationship that has ended in separation, you have two years from the date of your separation to make a property claim. It is important that you know your date of separation and that there is some level of agreement regarding the date. If you do not file within two years of separation for de facto relationships, you are outside the limitation period.

Check out the other Letters in the A – Z of Family Law: