The service to contact depends on what you need.
If you want to find a service in your area to help you, Service Seeker is an up-to-date and easily searchable directory of community services in the NT (and all Australia). Shelter Me is a directory of services for homeless Territorians, which includes a wide range of services.
NT Legal Aid’s publication Who Can Help? Assistance for Separating Families covers a range of services by type and by region across the NT. This version can be downloaded in PDF format. Although many of the contacts are correct please note that this information has not been updated since 2010.
There are a number of programs for families available to help work through the challenges they are experiencing. Programs for Families lists activities and services in a range of areas.
This section of the Family Law Guide looks at when you might need:
- Legal advice
- Child Welfare
- Child Support
- Domestic Violence
- Moving Interstate
- Help with Money
- Going to Court
Separation is one of the most emotionally difficult processes a person can go through. Often the conflict during separation comes from the emotions people are experiencing.
If you are having difficulties dealing with feelings during separation, it is advisable to contact a counselling service and book an appointment. Talking to someone can help.
If you want to find a counselling service in your area, Service Seeker is an up-to-date and easily searchable directory of community services in the NT (and all Australia). Shelter Me is a directory of services for homeless Territorians, which includes a wide range of services including counselling.
Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution?
Agreeing about arrangements for children or property can be difficult following separation. If you are having difficulty discussing these issues with your former partner, family dispute resolution may help.
A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner helps the parties communicate and create their own solutions in order to reach agreement.
Getting legal advice is an important first step should any problems arise. Family Law is very confusing and full of myths. For example you may hear that the law says both parents are given equal care of the children. This is an incorrect generalisation. each case is unique. People separating should get legal advice.
Legal services offer free legal advice on family law by phone for remote areas or by appointment in towns. They include:
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission (NTLAC)
- Top End Women’s Legal Service (TEWLS)
- North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) Darwin, Katherine and remote.
- Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS)
- Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS)
- Central Australian Women’s Legal Service (CAWLS)
- Domestic Violence Legal Service (Darwin / Alice)
- Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Service (KWILS)
- North Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Service (NAAFLS)
Private law firms can also give legal advice but they are not free.The Northern Territory Law Society runs scheme where people can have a first interview with a private practitioner at reduced cost. Contact the Law Society to find out the cost of the scheme and which lawyers are part of it.
Following separation, it is necessary for property to be divided between the parties. If there is any significant property or debt it is essential that each party obtain legal advice. Knowing your rights will help you come to an agreement. Contact your nearest legal service or private solicitor for advice.
Welfare concerns about children can include physical abuse, emotional harm, neglect, sexual abuse, truancy, exposure to danger, lack of nutrition, and others. If you have worries notify the Department of Children and Families and/or your local police station.
If you need legal advice or help with a Child Protection (welfare) case contact legal aid toll free on 1800 019 343.
Every parent is responsible for financially and emotionally supporting their children whether they live with them or not. The level of support is determined by a number of factors including the number of children, their care arrangements and the income of both parents. You should contact the Department of Human Services – Child Support to discussion your options on 131 272.
If there has been a recent incident of violence then the Police should be contacted first. If a person is in fear of violence then they should approach their nearest Domestic Violence Service for legal advice. Support and counselling are also available through counselling services. To find a service near you, see 1800Respect.
Following separation many people find themselves without a place to stay. If you need of housing there are many organisations that can help. Crisis accommodation is for people who need urgent temporary accommodation. Most of these organisations can also arrange or refer you to other services that provide longer term accommodation. See Shelterme to find a service near you.
Every person has the right to move freely throughout Australia as provided in the Constitution. If the person wishing to move has children, and wants to relocate the children, then legal advice is strongly recommended before any move. In some circumstances a Court can order that the children be returned to their place of origin.
Contact your nearest legal service or private solicitor for advice.
Help with Money
Many people separating find themselves in financial trouble and need some money to get back on their feet. Charity organisations that can help with donations and some government departments issue urgent grants, loans and advanced benefit payments. Contact your nearest charity or counselling service to find out more information. Directory of emergency relief services can be found here.
Going to court
Going to court should always be a last resort but if it is absolutely necessary then obtaining legal advice is essential.
Call the Legal Aid Helpline for legal information 1800 019 343
Contact your nearest legal service or private solicitor for advice. There are also many support services that can assist people who are going through the courts. Some of these services include:
The Family Law Duty Lawyer is a FREE Service available at the Family Law Courts in Darwin and Alice Springs (call 89820821 on the day you are in court)