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I've been separated from my ex-husband for almost a year. Can you help me get a divorce?

Yes, Women’s Legal Service provides advice and assistance with family law, which includes many issues around separation and divorce. The Family Law Courts also provide practical “Do-it-yourself kits” that provide explanations and instructions on how to get a divorce – this may also be a useful place to start. You should also know that you can only apply for a divorce once you have been separated for 12 months. This means you must be able to prove that you have “lived separately and apart for a continuous period of 12 months” before filing your application for a divorce order.

I need help filling out an application for a domestic violence protection order. Can I see a laywer?

The social work staff at Women’s Legal Service provide appointments to help with completing this court form. As our social work and legal staff work together to provide a holistic service to our clients, this means you can also see a lawyer where you need legal advice or assistance in relation to your application or other related issues.

I've recently finalised my separation but I need to update my will. Can you help me draft a simple will?

No. Women’s Legal Service can only provide legal advice and assistance in limited areas of law (see “How we can help”). Take a look at “Referrals” to see who else might be able to help you. For example, if you live in the Brisbane area, South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre offers an affordable basic will making service for a minimal fee.

I've recently returned to work from maternity leave and am being given very limited hours and opportunities in my workplace. I believe I'm being discriminated against because I'm a woman and because I took time off after childbirth. Can you help me have my rights recognised?

No, Women’s Legal Service cannot assist with disputes in the workplace. Even though your issue has arisen because of family commitments, you will need to discuss your issue with a lawyer who is familiar with employment law or anti-discrimination law. Take a look at “Referrals” to see what other organisations might be able to assist you. For example, if you live in the Brisbane area, Caxton Legal Centre offers an Employment Law Service that can assist with certain employment disputes, or you can speak with Working Women Queensland.

I lent my son-in-law money for a house deposit 10 years ago and he refuses to repay it. How can I make him honour our agreement?

Unfortunately, we cannot assist with this type of legal issue. Even though your problem involves your family, it is not “family law” as it does not involve a marriage or de facto relationship breakdown. Take a look at Referrals to find the contact details for other organisations that can assist with “civil law” matters (the type of law that governs disputes between two or more individuals). Depending on your age and circumstances, there are also specific legal services for seniors, including Caxton Legal Centre’s Legal and Support Service.

I've got my first court date in the Family Law Courts next week. Can you represent me in Court?

Due to high demand, Women’s Legal Service can only provide limited representation to a very small number of clients. Whether you are eligible for representation in court will depend on the type of matter and whether you fit our criteria for assistance. Each matter and client is assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, there are duty lawyers available to assist you in most courts throughout Queensland. We may be able to provide you with legal advice and assistance to represent yourself in Court via our Helpline.

My ex has taken the kids. Can I call the police?

You always have the right to call the police; however, the police’s response may vary depending on your circumstances. You should seek legal advice immediately about your rights and responsibilities in relation to the children and your ex-partner. As this is a family law matter, Women’s Legal Service would likely be able to assist with your enquiry. Call the Helpline to book an appointment with a solicitor, who can give you some advice specific to your situation.

If you are unable to get through to us, you can call Legal Aid Queensland at 1300 651 188 (anywhere in Queensland for legal information and referral) or 1300 650 143 (for legal information and referral for indigenous people).

My partner and I have split up, and I want full custody of the kids. Can you help?

After separation, parents will usually need to make arrangements for the care of their children. While many people talk about “full custody”, that is a term that is no longer used in the law. Instead, we talk about the “best interests of the child” and all the factors that go into deciding just what that means in reality. This includes things such as with whom the child lives, with whom the child spends time and with whom the child communicates. A solicitor at Women’s Legal Service can provide you with advice about your options for parenting arrangements after separation. Call the Helpline to book an appointment with a solicitor, who can give you some advice specific to your situation.

I separated from my husband some time ago and need to organise how we’re splitting the jointly-owned property. Can you assist me?

Property settlement after separation is considered “family law” and as such, we may be able to assist if you contact us via the Helpline. However, be aware that Women’s Legal Service staff and volunteer solicitors cannot:

  • Provide "independent legal advice" on an application for consent orders;
  • Sign off a binding financial agreement (commonly referred to as a "pre-nuptial agreement";
  • Provide financial advice.

I've just a received a bill from my solicitor and the amount they've charged me is astronomical. What are my options?

If you have a dispute with your solicitor, we won’t be able to give you legal advice but we can refer you on to someone who can. The body that regulates solicitors in Queensland is the Queensland Law Society. They can provide advice, should you have concerns about your solicitor.

I'm male but I want to get some legal advice for my sister. Can you talk to me?

Women’s Legal Service provides advice and assistance to women only. We understand that a variety of circumstances may make it difficult for your sister to access our services, but we really need to speak to her in person or over the phone. You can pass on our contact details for our Helpline.

I don't speak English very well. Do you have any interpreters at the Service?

Women’s Legal Service can offer access to interpreters for many different languages, free of charge to our clients. We usually use an interpreter for a daytime appointment here at the Service. If you need an interpreter, please call (or have your support person call) the Service to let us know.

Can I bring a male support person with me to my appointment or to the evening service?

Women’s Legal Service aims to create a safe and inviting space for women and their children. Generally, we do not permit men to wait in the waiting room or to attend appointments. If you have any questions, please speak to the Helpline worker, or your solicitor or social worker prior to your appointment.

I am not happy with how my matter was dealt with at Women’s Legal Service. How can I make a complaint?

As a client of Women’s Legal Service (WLS) you have the right to make a complaint and have complaints dealt with in a respectful, fair and timely manner.

Complaints can be made:

  • In writing by email or letter by post to PO Box 119, Annerley QLD 4103 or email to [email protected]
  • By phone on (07) 3392 0644
  • In person with the relevant staff member or Coordinator by appointment.

Wherever possible, complaints will be investigated and resolved within 28 days. 

I would like to thank my solicitor for the advice they provided. How can I provide feedback to Women's Legal Service?

Women’s Legal Service welcomes your feedback, whether positive or negative, to inform service reviews and improvements.

Feedback can be provided:

  • In writing by post to PO Box 119, Annerley QLD 4103 or email to [email protected]
  • By phone on (07) 3392 0644
  • In person with the relevant staff member or Coordinator by appointment. 

What are my rights and responsibilities regarding my appointment with Women’s Legal Service? Can I bring my children to my appointment?

As a client of Women’s Legal Service, you have the right:

  • to be treated with courtesy and respect
  • to receive a service in a safe environment
  • to a professional service from qualified staff and volunteers
  • to non-judgemental legal advice, in plain English
  • to request an interpreter
  • to request an appropriate supportive adult to be with you
  • to have access to information about your matter held by WLS, and to have copies of documents where requested
  • to make a complaint and have complaints dealt with in a fair and timely way
  • to confidentiality. Your personal information will not be released outside WLS, except in the following circumstances:

    • Where you have provided consent
    • If there is a danger to yourself or others
    • If we are required by law

within the limits of the Women’s Legal Service resources, guidelines and policies.

You have a responsibility:

  • to treat staff and volunteers with courtesy and respect
  • to care for your children while at WLS.

WLS welcome children to the service, but do not allow children into legal or social work appointments. We take all reasonable steps to provide a safe and inviting space for women and children. However, your children’s care remains your responsibility.

If you are bringing young children to your appointment, please bring a support person with you to look after them while your have your appointment. 

What do you do with information collected about me and my matter, and what happens to my file once my matter is complete?

When you contact Women’s Legal Service, we will ask you for information about yourself and your matter. This information is necessary to assist you and for our own records.

We are required by law to keep your personal information confidential. WLS are required to provide some non-identifying client information to our funding bodies. If you are asked for sensitive information, the staff member or volunteer must explain why the information is required.

Client records are kept on file at WLS. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, files are destroyed seven (7) years after the closure of your file.

What if my Domestic Violence Protection Order is breached?

You should call the police immediately if the Respondent breaks the conditions of the Domestic Violence Order (DVO). The police will investigate and if it can be proved the DVO was broken, the Respondent will be charged with breaching the DVO, which is a criminal offence.

They could also be charged with other criminal offences depending on the circumstances. It will help the police if you have proof the DVO was broken, like recordings of abusive telephone messages, diary entries you made about the violence, and the names of family, friends and neighbours who witnessed the behaviour.

Do we have to be divorced before Orders can be made for children or property?

Divorce is separate from a property settlement, parenting orders and child support. You do not have to wait 12 months before dealing with these issues. You can deal with these matters at any time after separation.

Court proceedings for a property settlement must be commenced prior to the following times:

  • If married - 12 months from the date of the Divorce Order
  • If de facto - 2 years after the end of the relationship.

Strict time limits apply. Contact our Helpline to make an appointment with a solicitor for further advice.