What is legal aid?
Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation at court.
Can I get legal aid?
Since the Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into force in 2013 there appears to have been some confusion as to what circumstances legal aid is available. Legal aid is still available in certain circumstances. It is important to take legal advice to check whether you are eligible to receive Legal Aid.
In some cases, legal aid is available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for example where social services have applied for a care or supervision order for your child or have told you that they are going to make such an application to the court.
Legal Aid for private family law cases, such as contact or residence matters (now known as Child Arrangements Orders) is generally only available where the person applying for legal aid can provide evidence that they are a victim of domestic abuse, or where they can show that a child has been or is at risk of abuse. There is prescribed evidence that is required to obtain legal aid.
Whether you qualify for legal aid will depend on the type of case and your financial circumstances. Legal aid can be available in the following family law matters:-
- Proceedings brought by local authorities (social services) for care or supervision orders relating to children
- Contact to a child in care
- Where social services are involved with your family
- Injunction orders – either non-molestation orders or occupation orders
- Forced marriage protection orders
- Child abduction or unlawful removal of a child from your care
- Family mediation and advice in support of mediation
- Some high court proceedings about the welfare of your child
- Representation of children who are party to private law proceedings
- Exceptional cases if the refusal of legal aid would infringe your rights under the European Convention of Human Rights
In other family cases you may get legal aid if you can provide evidence that you have been a victim of domestic abuse, or a child is a risk of abuse.
- If you have been a victim of domestic abuse and are divorcing or separating and you need help with divorce, contact or how to share money or property.
- Where a child is at risk of abuse and you need help with arrangements for that child.
- You are involved in a court case about arrangements for a child and have been a victim of domestic violence or abuse or the child is at risk of abuse.
Further guidance and template letters can be found at:
To check whether you qualify you can go to www.civil-eligibility-calculator.justice.gov.uk
If you need further information about this or help in connection with any family matter please contact us. If legal aid is not available to you we can discuss fixed fees for your case.