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Legal Aid

The introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (also known as LASPO) made hundreds of thousands of people that were eligible for Legal Aid on 31st March 2013 ineligible the very next day.

Large numbers of people, including children and those on low incomes, are now excluded from whole areas of free or subsidised legal advice – valuable advice which they cannot realistically be expected to afford themselves. In particular for family law, Legal Aid funding was completely removed for private matters (i.e. divorce or child contact) unless the matter involved domestic violence or child abuse.

What can I get Legal Aid for?

Legal Aid is still available for certain matters. These are:

  • Applications for non-molestation and occupation orders
  • Applications for restraining orders under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997
  • Applications for forced marriage protection orders
  • Applications for orders in relation to children who have been unlawfully removed to a place within the UK
  • Applications for orders in relation to children who have been abducted or unlawfully removed to a place outside the UK
  • Proceedings brought by the local authority for care or supervision orders

Means tested

Legal Aid is means tested by the Legal Aid Agency. It might be the case that you get your matter fully funded, or you might have to contribute something towards the cost. There are, however, some exceptions to the means test. In cases where a local authority seeks to remove your child, you qualify for automatic legal aid regardless of your income. Similarly, if your child has been abducted you also qualify. In cases where you are applying for an injunction to protect yourself from harm you might get some Legal Aid but you are likely to have to contribute as well.

The government has a couple of sites you can use to check for Legal Aid eligibility. Check if you can get Legal Aid here, or have a look at the Ministry of Justice online means testing calculator.

Get in touch

For comprehensive advice relating to your Legal Aid family law matter, give us a call or drop us a message through the website. We also offer free Legal Clinics at our Fleetwood Office and Cleveleys Office.