Can I get legal aid for family law matters
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Legal representation is important and can make a vital difference to the success of cases. However, legal costs are not always affordable for everyone in England and Wales. As a result, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), a government-funded body, are able to provide funding for legal representation. This can ensure that everyone has access to legal advice and representation.
Legal aid solicitors
We understand that the costs attached to legal advice and representation can often deter individuals from seeking help. With legal aid, this isn’t an issue.
Our panel of family law legal aid solicitors can assist on a variety of matters and provide legal advice and representation. Their assistance will benefit the outcome of your matter as well as reducing the stress and anxiety which you may be facing.
Can I get legal aid in family law matters?
If you do not think that you will be able to pay for legal advice, you can find out if you are eligible for legal aid online.
Whether you are eligible for legal aid will depend on the type of case and your financial circumstances. Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), eligibility considerations will consist of whether your case is covered by the scope of legal aid, the likelihood of success for the case (‘the merits test’), and yours financial means. Though, if an individual requires a legal aid solicitor upon arrest, they will not have to undergo the ‘merits test’ first.
The financial means assessment of an individual will consist of analysis of their gross income, net income, and capital. Capital can include anything from savings to investment, though the current limit is capped at £8,000.
For family law legal aid, the LAA will want to see evidence of your “income, benefits, savings and property”. They will also want to see the same for your partner. If you are a victim of domestic abuse or child abuse, and are seeking a non-molestation order, the LAA may want to see evidence of domestic abuse from a GP.
The rules are ever-changing thus it is always recommended that individuals contact the LAA directly or raise a query with their solicitor to confirm the amount of legal aid which they will receive.
What does legal aid cover?
Legal aid will not always cover every cost relating to your family law matter. For example, you may be required to pay a sum upfront or pay money back upon the conclusion of the matter. Therefore if you receive property or money upon the successful conclusion of your case, the LAA will place a ‘statutory charge’ on it. Further advice can be sought if this applies to you.
Legal aid – Family Law
Legal aid can be provided for a number of family law matters. Alongside advice, legal aid solicitors can provide representation at the family court or tribunal.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can seek a number of orders via a legal aid solicitor, under the Family Law Act 1996.
An appropriate order may be an Occupation Order. This order can be sought to exclude an abuser from the family home or to require them to remain in a certain part of the family home. Alternatively, it can be made to allow the applicant to occupy the family home. Though the respondent may still be required to pay the bills associated to the property.
These orders are short term remedies to aid rehabilitation following domestic violence. They can be sought against a variety of associated persons including a cohabitant, a partner, someone who the victim shares/shared parental responsibility for a child with or a family member of the victim (via cohabitation, marriage, civil partnership, or blood).
Another order which could be useful to help remedy domestic abuse or child abuse is a Non-Molestation Order. This order works to protect victims by “prohibiting a person (the respondent) from molesting another person who is associated” with them or “a relevant child” (s. 42 (1) Family Law Act 1996). It may be relevant in a situation where a victim has been harassed, pestered or threatened. To apply for a Non-Molestation Order, the perpetrator must be an associated person to the applicant. Unlike an Occupation Order, Non-Molestation Orders can be granted for specific time periods or indefinitely, depending on the situation.
An order which can be sought to protect individuals against forced marriage is the Forced Marriage Protection Order. This order shows similarities to a Non-Molestation Order and acts to prevent individuals from being forced to marry in the UK or abroad. This order can be made against anyone involved in the forced marriage, such as family members and the person who they were due to marry.
Legal aid can be sought for any of the aforementioned orders. It is important to seek legal aid if you require any of the above and do not think that you could afford legal costs. By doing so, you could benefit your legal case and your life in general.
When is legal aid unavailable in family law?
In some private family law matters, the parties to the proceedings will not be eligible for legal aid. Nevertheless, if there is domestic violence or a risk of domestic violence, exceptions can be made.
Furthermore, legal aid cannot be sought for family mediation costs.
How do I apply for legal aid?
To make an application for legal aid, you should complete the relevant forms online. This will include a form relating to your financial position and the details of the case. These forms will be sent to the LAA. Once the LAA have considered the application, they will confirm whether you are eligible for legal aid.
If the legal aid has been sought on an emergency basis, the solicitor can alert the LAA.
A legal aid solicitor would be helpful during this process as their assistance will ensure that the forms are completed correctly. If they are not completed correctly, the process may be delayed. Some legal aid solicitors will have contracts with the LAA. This eases the process as they can work via this contract. If your solicitor is an LAA contract holder, you should discuss your eligibility for legal aid in the initial conversation, as the contract holder solicitor cannot volunteer your case for legal aid if they do not believe it is eligible.
How can Expert Family Law assist?
If you are still wondering “can I get legal aid for family law matters?” speak to us today. If you are unsure of where to commence your search for a legal aid solicitor for a family law matter, our panel of experts can be of assistance.
Saving you the search, we can find out the details of your case and match you to an expert solicitor whose expertise lie in the area which you require.
Our clients can trust that each solicitor we provide will be reliable and knowledgeable as all of our panel are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered in England and Wales.
To find a legal aid solicitor who will be able to work with you in-person or remotely, please contact us via the form at the top of the page.
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