What Legal Aid Is Available For Family Issues?

For those who are eligible, legal aid is help with legal costs associated with family matters. Legal aid is funded by the public and covers legal advice, family mediation and representation in court or at a tribunal.

What Legal Aid Is Available For Family Issues?

This article looks at the various options that may be available to you if you need help to pay legal costs in the family court.  We take a look at legal aid, eligibility and what is covered as well as the evidence that you will need to support your application for legal aid.

What Is Legal Aid

For those who are eligible, legal aid is help with legal costs associated with family matters.  This is funded by the public and covers legal advice, family mediation and representation in court or at a tribunal.  In England and Wales, financial support for court cases is provided by The Legal Aid Agency.

Three key points are considered when assessing applications for legal aid:

  • Scope – To ensure that the application to the court or the matter that financial assistance is being sought for is covered.
  • Means test – Your income is assessed to ensure that you can’t afford to pay for your own legal costs.
  • Merits test – How successful are you likely to be?  Are the costs reasonable? Would someone pay money for the case if they could afford to do so?

Different Types of Legal Aid

  • Legal help – your award will cover the cost of a solicitor advising you about your case and even negotiating with the other party in the case, but they will not represent you at court.
  • Family Mediation – A solicitor will help you to negotiate with the other party outside of the courtroom in a Family Mediation capacity.
  • Legal Representation – A solicitor can represent you in court or they may even arrange for a barrister.  The solicitor will prepare your case for you so that you have full legal assistance throughout the case.

What Kinds of Issues Qualify For Legal Aid?

You may be able to get financial assistance if your family issues include any of the following:

  • Family Mediation – This can be part of an application to court or it could be a measure to help you and your ex to come to an amicable arrangement outside of the court room.  Issues dealt with in mediation include financial and child arrangements matters at the heart of a breakup.
  • An application for a restraining order
  • An application for an occupancy or non molestation order
  • Applications for a Child Arrangements Order, Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order if you or your child are at risk of suffering harm or have suffered violence or abuse from the other party.
  • Representation for children who become party to a family court proceeding
  • An application for a forced marriage protection order
  • Proceedings initiated by the local authority to apply for a supervision or care order
  • Family issues where your child is going to be taken out of the UK without your consent.
  • Some exceptional cases, for example where it would be an infringement of your Human Rights under EU law to refuse you access to legal representation.
  • Applications from 10th December 2015 for post-adoption contact where there is proof of domestic violence or abuse against a child or if the child has been made party to proceedings.

If you think that your case would qualify for legal aid, then you would not need any evidence to speak to a legal aid solicitor, but in order to verify your eligibility, you will need to produce sufficient evidence.

The Legal Aid Finder is a tool that you can use to find a registered solicitor to help you with your case.

Means Tested

You will find that most applications for Legal Aid for family isues are means tested.  This means that you will need to be on a low income to qualify. You will be asked for details of your income including benefits, savings and invstments and you will need to produce this information for your partner too if you live with one.

Some family issues don’t require you to provide your financial means, for example if your child is in care or if they are subject of supervision proceedings.

How Do You Go About Applying For Legal Aid?

If you believe that you fulfill the criteria above and you think that you could be eligible for legal aid, you should contact Civil Legal Advice or you could make a direct appointment with a legal aid solicitor.  If you apply directly to a solicitor, they will need to apply to the Legal Aid Agency for the funding for your family issues. You are usually given time scales in which to provide documents for the Legal Aid Agency so it is important to ensure that you get copies of any paperwork that you may need to prevent your application being delayed or closed.

If your application is successful, then you will be issued with a Certificate from the Legal Aid Agency and this will give a figure for the amount of funds that you have been awarded to spend on your case along with the type of family issues that you will be allowed to use the funds for.

If you have any changes in circumstances, it is your duty to report these changes as soon as possible.

I am a Law student, currently studying a Masters of Law postgraduate Degree. I have helped many families to navigate the complicated pathway of family court and am passionate about helping people to establish a good co-parenting relationship as well as a great relationship with their child. Being part of a blended family herself, I have a great deal of experience when it comes to separated families and believe that money should not be an obstacle to contact with your children. I came up with the idea of passing on my knowledge of the legal system after speaking to numerous people about their struggles with the family court and speaking to fathers in particular who had been denied contact with their child by their ex who were not aware that they could self represent or how to go about that. My goal is to ensure that there is enough information available to parents to help them to self represent in court if they are not entitled to legal aid. Of course, I have bills to pay like everyone else, including costs to run this site, so there are some things that I ask a fee for. In addition to this, I invite anyone who has found my site useful in their case and has managed to save money by not needing to appoint a solicitor to donate whatever they can to help me to cover some of the costs of running this site. All donations are welcome, no matter how small.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: