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An Introduction to Court Ordered Counselling and Programs

November 5, 2023

It comes as no surprise that parenting matters cause an enormous amount of stress on litigating parties and their children for a multitude of reasons. Family separation is in and of itself a significant source of trauma that can cause emotions to run high for children and parents alike, however, when the added stresses of legal proceedings are thrown into the mix, acute emotional and psychological difficulties can begin to present themselves.

Can a judge make orders for family counselling?

Yes. Justice Baumann of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia frequently voices during family court proceedings what he calls a ‘mantra’ that Australia has far too many kids in counselling and not enough parents doing the same work. Section 13C of the Family Law Act provides that a court may order one or more of the parties to any proceedings to attend family counselling. Further to this, the court can also order that parties (usually the parents) encourage the participation of specified persons where the judge deems they may benefit from such therapy. This can include the children who are subject to the proceedings, maternal and paternal grandparents or other relatives such as aunts and uncles or step-parents.

What is family counselling?

The Family Law Act section 10B defines family counselling as the process where a family counsellor helps parties to address issues between them that relate to marriage, as well as helping children who have been affected or are likely to be affected by the separation or divorce of their parents.

Can a judge order program participation?

Yes! Also included under section 13C, the Family Law Act gives the court the power to order parents to attend appropriate parenting programs, courses and other services. The court may order parents to participate in programs such as the Circle of Security or Keeping Kids in Mind, regularly run by Relationships Australia and other organisations with a focus on securing and improving family dynamics.

Counselling Within a Parenting Plan

Even if you’re able to avoid your family matter going to court through a means of alternative dispute resolution, you might still decide that your family (parents and/or children) require some therapeutic support. With the assistance of your family law solicitors, your separating family may be able to sign a parenting plan which includes an agreement that parties will attend appropriate counselling. If you’re confused about parenting orders vs parenting plans, this article written by Love Family Lawyers will help to clear things up.

How can Love Family Lawyers help?

Our niche experience in the family law sector means that we’re able to guide you through tricky parenting orders with confidence. We’ll help you to advocate for what is right for your family, ensuring the best interests of children remain the paramount priority. If you’re seeking family therapy and you’re unsure where to start, contact one of our friendly family solicitors for a consultation today. We look forward to being able to assist your family through difficult times.

Lisa Lucas

Lisa Lucas

Legal Bookkeeping & Accounting

Meet Lisa, our seasoned professional who joined our team in August 2022, boasting an impressive background of over two decades in accounting. With a solid foundation in IT and a Bachelor of Science under her belt, Lisa’s journey evolved as she not only managed her own accounting firm but also earned postgraduate degrees in both accounting and commercial law.

In her pivotal role, Lisa is instrumental in maintaining the firm’s compliance and ensuring seamless operations. Her wealth of experience brings a wealth of knowledge to our team, contributing to our success and client satisfaction.

Beyond the numbers, Lisa finds balance in her life through activities like Pilates and walks with her beloved dogs. Her dedication, expertise, and passion make Lisa an invaluable asset to our team, driving us towards excellence in every aspect of our work.

Amy Hayslep

Amy Hayslep


Amy joined our team in December 2022 as a receptionist, where she plays a vital role in managing our firm’s administrative support and daily operations. 

Her commitment to excellence and efficiency has greatly contributed to the smooth running of our office. 

Amy is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business with a focus on Marketing at the University of the Sunshine Coast, a testament to her dedication to professional growth and understanding of business dynamics. 

Amy’s aspiration to integrate her marketing insights into her current role demonstrates her forward-thinking approach and commitment to continuous improvement. Outside of work, Amy enjoys Pilates, baking, and gardening.

Jon Staby

Jon Staby


Jon was born in Windhoek, Namibia and moved with his family to Brisbane in 2005. Jon is currently studying his Bachelor of Laws and aims to complete it by the end of 2024. 

Jon has been currently working as a Paralegal since April 2023 and has a keen interest in all family law areas.  

Jon believes in the law to empathetically and expertly help clients to reach the best outcomes for their unique circumstances. 

In his free time, Jon’s hobbies include painting, playing basketball with friends, and watching television shows with his pet cat Luna.  

Serena May

Serena May

LLB (Hons) BBus

Serena was admitted to the profession in 2022 and holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Business from QUT. 

Serena has previous experience as a Barrister’s Assistant in family law as well as working in a mid-tier commercial law firm in property law, wills and estates, employment law and construction disputes. This experience has provided her with the opportunity to learn from an array of senior legal practitioners before choosing to specialise in family law.

Serena is passionate about ensuring her clients feel well informed throughout their matter. Serena acknowledges every personal circumstance is unique and no other person knows exactly what it is like to walk in your shoes. 

Serena recognises that clients are often experiencing immense stress and require compassionate and efficient communication from start to finish to empower them to move on to the next chapter of their life.

On her weekends Serena enjoys heading to the coast for a surf and spending time with her poodle pup, Miss April May.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Practice Leader – Founder

Michael was awarded a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from QUT in 2012, and was admitted as a lawyer in 2013. 

He also has a Bachelor of Science from UQ which he was awarded in 2007 (before deciding that a career in law would be more interesting than science).

Michael has practiced exclusively in the areas of Family Law, Child Safety (Care and Protection), and Domestic Violence since mid-2014. 

Michael has experience as a Separate Representative for children in Child Safety cases and has appeared on behalf of hundreds of people in Family Law and Domestic Violence cases in Queensland and the ACT.

Michael’s experience means he has a particularly keen insight into how to best avoid Court and he has an excellent record of settling cases quickly and without unnecessary conflict and cost. 

That said, he also knows how to best prepare and conduct litigation if Court becomes unavoidable, and he will expertly guide you through even the most complex and delicate case.

Michael takes a genuine interest in his clients and will make sure that you are properly advised in a way that is easy to understand, without all the unnecessary jargon that so many lawyers love to use. You can trust Michael to be direct, flexible, and empathetic. 

When he is not at work, Michael loves being in the outdoors, whether that’s fishing from his kayak or working in the garden. He also loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen.

Matthew Watt

Matthew Watt

Practice Manager – Founder

As one of the founders of BWJ Law, Matt is an indispensable member of the executive team. 

He plays a pivotal role in the day-to-day operations of the firm, focusing on implementing operational strategies and realizing the organization’s vision. 

This ensures that all employees are equipped with the necessary resources to perform at their best, delivering unparalleled service to clients.

An active member of the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and an associate member of the QLD Law Society, Matt consistently stays updated with the latest in legal practice management. 

He recognizes the significance of continuous professional growth, ensuring that he offers the best support to legal practitioners. 

Moreover, he adeptly manages a diverse range of corporate and strategic responsibilities inherent to the role of a practice manager.