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Legal Aid

Legal Aid – the ‘ins and outs’

15.09.19

In the past, Legal Aid was available for all types of family law matters but this changed in 2013, when new rules were introduced. Legal aid is available in family law matters involving Domestic Abuse, Cases with Social Service involvement, Forced Marriage Protection Orders and Cases involving Child Abduction.

Usually, cases relating to Divorce and Finances, as well as Child Arrangements do not qualify for legal aid. If, however, you have evidence of domestic abuse, or child protection, it is still possible to get Legal Aid in these categories. The Legal Aid Agency species the types of evidence they will accept.

All Legal Aid applications are subject to a ‘means and merits’ test to see if you will be eligible for Legal Aid. The Means Test assesses a person’s financial situation and if you are in receipt of a ‘passporting’ benefit, you should pass the means test, however, if this does not apply, a more detailed assessment of your finances must be carried out. The Merits Test looks at the case itself-it evaluates your success rate. Cases relating to Forced Marriage; where children of the family, under the age of 18, are taken abroad to cultural countries (e.g.: Pakistan) to be married off, automatically pass the merits test. Care Proceedings also automatically pass the merits test. If you pass both the ‘means and merits’ test you would be eligible for Legal Aid Funding.

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