When is legal aid available?
- For care proceedings (if you are a parent or person with parental responsibility for a child);
- As an intervener within care proceedings (where you satisfy the income thresholds detailed below);
- For private law proceedings (where you fit the criteria for evidence of domestic abuse or child protection concerns and income thresholds detailed below);
- For divorce and finances (where you have evidence of domestic abuse and income thresholds as detailed below);
- For pre-proceedings (legal help scheme);
- For mediation (legal help scheme where you satisfy the income thresholds detailed below);
- For public law proceedings such as an application for contact with a child in care or discharge of the care orders (where you satisfy the income thresholds detailed below);
- Where you are eligible for exceptional case funding (not covered in this article).
What qualifies as evidence of domestic abuse?*
- Arrest for a relevant domestic violence offence
- A relevant police caution for a domestic violence offence
- Relevant ongoing criminal proceedings
- A relevant conviction for a domestic violence offence
- Bind overs connected with a domestic violence offence
- Domestic violence protection notice
- A relevant protective injunction
- Finding of fact
- Expert report produced as evidence for court/tribunal
- Letter or report from an appropriate health professional
- An appropriate health professional referral to a domestic violence support service
- Multi-agency risk assessment conference (or other local safeguarding forum)
- Letter from an independent domestic violence advisor/advocate
- Letter from an independent sexual violence advisor/advocate
- Letter from local authority or housing association
- Letter from organisation providing domestic violence support services
- Letter from organisation providing domestic violence support services – refusal of admission to a refuge
- Letter from public authority
- Leave to remain in the UK under paragraph 289B of the Immigration Rules
- Financial abuse
What qualifies as evidence of child protection concerns?
- Arrest for a child abuse offence
- Relevant police caution for a child abuse offence
- Relevant ongoing criminal proceedings for a child abuse offence
- Relevant conviction for a child abuse offence
- Relevant protective injunction
- Finding of fact
- Social services letter
- Social services letter – child protection plan
- Application for a protective injunction together with an application for a prohibited steps order
*See link https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/672143/evidence-requirements-private-family-law-matters-guidance-version-8.pdf for full details of the eligibility criteria.
I have evidence of one of the above domestic abuse/ child protection concerns – what do I do now?
We will now need to assess your financial eligibility.
If you receive any of the following benefits, you automatically qualify within the income limits but we will still need to assess your capital eligibility:
- Income Support (IS)
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (GC)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you are not in receipt of a benefit as above, we will need to assess your income received and check the following:
- Check if you have a partner whose income should be included in calculations;
- Check that your gross income is £2,657 per month or less before we check your disposable income.
- Check that your disposable income is £733 or less.
- If you have passed the income means tests, we will then assess your disposable capital to make sure it’s no more than £8,000.
To check your own financial eligibility for legal aid, access the following calculator http://civil-eligibility-calculator.justice.gov.uk/
If you need advice regarding this article or any other Family Law matter then please contact 01978 291000 or 01244 312166 for more information. Alternatively, please email: [email protected]