08 Jul 2016

Family & Matrimonial

Recent Changes to Family Legal Aid – is there any left and if so, would you qualify?

Times have changed for solicitors and clients in relation to legal aid funding for matters involving children. Whilst once upon a time, provided you were able to provide proof of a low income, such as being in receipt of benefits, this was a passport to freedom legal representation and advice, sadly times have since changed.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) introduced in 2013 withdrew funding for wide areas of family and children law, particularly in relation to divorce, residence and contact issues.

We often receive enquiries about public funding for family matters as one of the largest and busiest legal aid providers in the area.

Legal aid is now limited to protecting victims of domestic violence and those being supported by the local authority in circumstances where child abuse is a concern.  In both such circumstances, evidence of this needs to be provided as well as the Applicant being subject to a financial assessment.  It can be difficult and time consuming for parents to obtain the evidence that they need for a legal aid application however the evidence requirements have now been widened.

Whilst previously all evidence of domestic violence was time limited to having been obtained in the last 2 years, this has now changed as of April this year.  Although there has been little publicity, the evidence criteria for victims of domestic finance has recently been extended to include those who have been victims in the last 5 years and also those who have been victims of financial abuse, which has introduced an entirely new category of abuse.

The changes have come about as a result of pressure, from parents’ rights groups in particular, in the hope that this will widen access to justice.

Contact our offices today for feedback as to whether you are likely to qualify for funding as it may be the case that if you have been refused funding previously, due to being outside of the time limitation of the previous 2 years, for example, or if you have previously been a victim of financial abuse, this could be available now.

We also often continue to represent those who find that they do not qualify for funding on a privately paying basis with payment plans that can be agreed to suit you.

If you would like to speak to someone regarding social services or care matter, please call  us on 01633 244233.

 

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