Family Legal Aid - Eligibility After 01.04.2013

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The availability of legal aid for cases involving family law altered dramatically from 01.04.13

AVAILABILITY OF LEGAL AID

Legal aid is now only available:-

Cases involving children being taken into care.
The provision of mediation to resolve issues arising from relationship breakdowns - for example arrangements for the care of children and financial issues. There remains limited legal aid to take independent advice during and after mediation.
Legal aid is only available for representation at court on relationship breakdown where there has been proven domestic abuse (see below).

MEANS TESTING

Legal aid continues to be available on a non-means tested basis for cases potentially involving children being taken into care - known as "public law".

All other forms of legal aid are means tested:

Capital: Applicants must have capital below £8,000.00 - there are complex rules about equity in family homes - which are partly exempt where they form part of the issue in dispute.

Income: Applicants must be in receipt of a low income - and for certain types of legal aid may have to make a monthly contribution from income. Various fixed deductions are allowed from gross income - for example the numbers of dependants. The calculation is complex - you can do this on line at www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid.

All financial data must be supported by documentary evidence - without which you will not be eligible - see attached sheet.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence [D.V] is the "key" to securing full legal aid for representation

in court proceedings to secure divorces, Orders concerning children or financial

provision.

Domestic violence is widely defined to include - physical violence, threats of

violence, or other "abuse" including financial, emotional or physical.

The domestic violence must be evidenced. Suitable evidence includes:

  • Police caution for DV within last twenty four months or unspent criminal conviction.
  • Current criminal prosecution of the perpetrator - not concluded.
  • Letter or report from a doctor, nurse confirming that they have examined the victim and had injuries or a condition consistent with domestic violence in the last twenty four months.
  • Letter from Social Services confirming that within the last twenty four months the victim has been assessed as at risk of D.V.
  • Admission to a refuge for at least twenty four hours in the last twenty four months.

This evidence is not required in cases involving applications for Injunctions.

Legal aid will not pay any fees for Medical Reports - but a pro forma of a suitable letter to assist your medical adviser is attached.


CHECKLIST OF EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO APPLY FOR LEGAL AID

Evidence of Domestic Violence A letter/report to confirm abuse from a NOT required for mediation/medical professional/social services/Applications for an injunction evidence of admission to a refuge.

Capital Current bank/building society statement to verify investments.

Mortgage statement to verify balance outstanding upon any mortgage.

Income Wage slips for the last month or five weeks [if paid weekly]

Most recent Tax Credit award letter, if you are in receipt of this benefit.

Letter dated within the last month confirming payment of any other statem benefit (for example JSA/ESA/IS)

Documentary evidence to verify any other Income [for example child support].

Housing Costs If you are in rented accommodation - a copy of your Tenancy Agreement.

If you are in owner occupied accommodation and pay the mortgage evidence to show the monthly mortgage payment.

 

WE ARE ABLE TO OFFER SPECIALIST ADVICE

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