Following the legal aid changes in April 2013, legal aid is still available for many aspects of Family Law, in which case you may not have to pay for our legal services.
Even if you are on a modest income you may qualify for Legal Aid subject to a contribution towards your overall legal charges.
To check whether you are likely to qualify for Legal Aid go to:
Please note that in certain circumstances you may have re-pay your legal costs to the Legal Aid Agency.
Upon making an appointment to see ourselves to apply for Legal Aid, we shall write to you beforehand to confirm your appointment and to advise you of the documents you will need to bring with you for your first appointment to claim Legal Aid.
Depending upon the type of matter you wish to be advised upon there are different requirements as to what you should bring with you to your first meeting with ourselves to ensure that you qualify for legal aid.
For matters involving Children and the Local Authority there are three options:
a. If you require advice concerning ongoing matters between yourself and the Local Authority, to qualify for legal aid, this is means tested and therefore you must bring with you the financial documents referred to below and a copy of a recent Case Conference report or letter confirming that the Local Authority are showing an interest in your family.
b. If you require advice and representation at a PLO meeting at which the Local Authority solicitor will be in attendance, all that you need to provide is the letter of appointment supplied by the Local Authority. No other financial information is required.
c. If the Local Authority have already issued Care proceedings with a fixed court hearing, you must contact ourselves immediately by telephone to arrange for representation or for an urgent appointment. No other financial information is required.
For matters dealing with contact, residence, divorce and financial matters
From the 1st April 2013, Legal Aid we will only be able to grant legal aid for the following type of matters
Care proceedings (see above for the current requirements)
Private family where there is evidence of domestic violence
Private law children cases where there is evidence of child abuse
Child abduction matters
Domestic violence injunction cases
Forced marriage protection order cases.
Legal advice in support of mediation **
The definition of domestic violence is ‘Any incident of threatening behaviour, or abuse between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’. This is also includes ‘coercive control’ which includes psychological and financial controls. This will also extend to those aged 16 and 17.
In order to obtain legal aid, you will need to provide evidence in writing of one of the following which relates to the other party:-
An Injunction or Undertaking in the last 24 months
A conviction, caution or criminal proceedings
Admission to a refuge due to domestic violence
Confirmation by letter from a GP or other health professional that there are reasonable grounds to believe that domestic violence has taken place
A Social Services assessment has taken place and there are issues of child protection or domestic violence
Full details of the requirements as to the type of written evidence can be obtained from the Ministry of Justice website by pressing the following links:
In relation to legal advice in support of mediation, you must have already have attended Mediation, been assessed by them and have started the Mediation process. The Mediator must complete and send to ourselves a signed CW5 to evidence your commitment to the mediation process. We will then have to assess your financial evidence referred to below, before we can advise you upon any legal aspects concerning financial and children matters with the benefit of legal aid.
Financial information required
If you are able to provide the written evidence of one the above, you will then need to provide written evidence of your financial circumstances otherwise you will be requested to arrange a further appointment. The entitlement to Legal Aid is strictly controlled and therefore you must also bring with you the following:-
Financial documents to bring with you for your first appointment:-
1. If you are in receipt of:-
a. Income support or
b. JSA Income Based or
c. Income Based Employment and Support Allowance or
d. Guaranteed Pension Credit
You must provide an up to date letter from the Benefits Agency (which must be no more than 2 weeks old at the date of your appointment).
- If you are in receipt of any other form of benefit or are in employment, you are required to provide:-
a. If working, your last three months wage slips or if paid weekly your last six wage slips.
b. Up to date Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit notification for the current year.
c. Evidence of Child Benefit.
d. Evidence of any other income you are receiving (including maintenance).
3. In all cases you must provide an up to date three months bank statement of all accounts (including Building Society passbooks).
Please note that there is no automatic passporting for legal aid. Even though you may be on income based benefits, your capital savings must be disclosed and will be taken into account in assessing your eligibility for legal aid.
For Identification purposes:
1. I.D.- Passport or Driving Licence. If you have neither of these, please bring with you any other documentation which bears your photograph.
2. National Insurance Number.
3. An up to date Utility Bill and Bank statement to show proof of address.
If your matter is concerning a divorce, please bring with you your Marriage Certificate.
We look forward to seeing you but if you have any difficulties in attending for your appointment, please telephone this office, whereupon we can re-arrange the appointment for you or cancel the same as appropriate.