For solicitors to do legal aid work, they have to have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency. Alternative Family Law has no such contract and accordingly we cannot take on legal aid cases.
To get legal aid, you have to across three hurdles:
First Hurdle: Domestic Violence etc.
Legal aid for family law in England is be limited to the following cases:
- where there is evidence of domestic violence – this is the only way to get legal aid for many people,
- domestic violence injunction cases,
- forced marriage protection order cases,
- private law children cases where there is evidence of child abuse,
- for the left-behind parent in Hague Convention child abduction cases,
- representation for child parties in private family cases,
- legal advice in support of mediation,
- mediation to resolve family law disputes,
- MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings),
- certain public family law (protection of children, care cases) and
- certain EU and international agreements (e.g. enforcing maintenance from another EU country in England).
Everyone else has to pay privately or represent themselves.
If you think your case may fall into one of the narrow exceptions in the list above, please contact a family solicitor with a contract to do legal aid. We do not take on cases on the basis of legal aid at Alternative Family Law.
Legal aid for the left-behind parent for a child abduction to England and Wales to bring proceedings under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction is non-means, non-merits tested.
Second Hurdle: Means Test: Is your income and capital below the limits set by government?
To find out whether you may qualify for public funding, use the online calculator.
When using the calculator, please read the explanations and notes to the questions on the right very carefully before answering the questions. You may have no money at all, but you may still not receive legal aid, for example because your mortgage will not be fully deductible.
Third Hurdle: Merits Test: Is your case deserving enough?
The basic test is whether a privately-paying client of moderate means would put their money into the case. However, it is more complicated than this and varies depending on the type of case. If you think you may qualify for legal aid, please contact a family solicitor with a legal aid contract and talk to them about the merits test.
You can find details of solicitors who do legal aid work in your area on the this website. Even if you are getting legal aid, you may have to pay back the funding you received if you recover or preserve assets or money in your case. This does of course not apply if you have a dispute about child arrangements, but if you argue about shares in a house, you may find that the Legal Air Authority gets a first share of the sale proceeds, or has a mortgage on the house if you cannot sell it immediately because it is your home. This is called the “statutory charge” and your legal aid solicitor will explain to you in detail if and how it applies in your case.
If you are not entitled to legal aid or if you have decided to pay privately nevertheless contact Alternative Family Law to consult Andrea Woelke for advice on your specific circumstances. to top of text
12 May 2016 by Andrea Woelke