Guidelines for fee exemption, reduction and refund

Guidelines for fee exemption, reduction and refund

Who can apply for a family law fee reduction, exemption or refund, and how?

In some cases a reduced fee may be sought for divorce applications, or decree of nullity, or in respect of other family law fees, an exemption if you hold certain government concession cards or you can demonstrate financial hardship.

Exemption from paying family law fees

To find out if you’re eligible for an exemption from paying court fees, and for more information about what forms you will need to lodge, see the general exemption and financial hardship exemption information below.

General exemption

If you fit one of the criteria below, you may be eligible for an exemption from court fees (i.e. you will not have to pay).
You are entitled to an exemption from court fees in a proceeding if:

  • you have been granted legal aid for that proceeding from a state/territory Legal Aid Office or an approved legal aid scheme or service (including an approved community legal centre – see the list of approved legal aid schemes and services)
  • you are the primary holder of a health care card, a pensioner concession card, a Commonwealth seniors health card or any other card certifying entitlement to Commonwealth health concessions (this does not include a dependent of a primary cardholder)
  • you are an inmate of a prison or otherwise legally detained in a public institutions
  • you are under 18 years of age, or
  • you are receiving youth allowance, Austudy payments or ABSTUDY benefits.

If you are eligible, you will need to complete an Application for exemption from fees – general and provide supporting evidence (e.g. a photocopy of your health care card or Legal Aid letter). You will need to prove eligibility on each occasion a fee is payable.

Financial hardship exemption

You may be exempt from paying a court fee if, in the opinion of a registrar or an authorised officer, payment of the fee at that time would cause you financial hardship.

In deciding this, the registrar or authorised officer is required to consider your income, day-to-day living expenses, liabilities and assets.

A financial hardship exemption is only available to an individual and, even if an earlier fee has been exempted, must be considered on each occasion a fee is payable in any proceeding.

If you are seeking an exemption on the basis of financial hardship, you must complete an Application for exemption from fees – financial hardship. If a legal aid organisation has granted you Legal Aid, or you are receiving assistance from a legal assistance provider, you must provide a letter or a photocopy of a letter from the organisation indicating the extent to which aid has been granted or assistance provided. See the list of approved legal aid schemes and services covered by this exemption.

A decision of a registrar or authorised officer not to exempt an individual from paying a fee on the grounds of financial hardship, must be given in writing. This decision is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

If you want to know more, or are unsure about fees, call 1300 352 000 or visit your nearest family law registry.

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