Changes to Legal Aid funding will have major impact on separating couples

Changes to the way legal advice is funded in 2013 will significantly reduce the number of people eligible to receive Legal Aid.

From the 1st April 2013, the Government will no longer provide Legal Aid for those going through divorce and separation, or requiring support with children’s matters such as contact, residence or Parental Responsibility issues. 

Only those cases involving domestic violence, forced marriage, child abduction or care proceedings (i.e. for families where children may be taken or have already been taken into care by the Local Authority) will be eligible for Legal Aid and this will be subject to meeting strict criteria. If couples want to resolve their dispute through the Courts, they will need to fund their own legal action, or do it themselves.

Clients who have public funding secured before April 1st 2013 will be entitled to continue with their matter using Legal Aid after this date.

Partner and head of the Family Department at Hegarty Solicitors, Matthew Sidebottom says “The legal and financial implications of these changes will have a big impact on the cost of legal advice for many couples.  The festive season can put a strain on relationships and, sadly, we tend to see an increase in the number of people seeking family advice at this time of year.  We would encourage anyone who is considering taking legal advice to do so as soon as possible, before the funding changes come in to effect.”

 To make family law advice more affordable, Hegarty Solicitors have introduced a range of fixed fee packages.  An initial appointment with a solicitor is just £90, and divorce packages start from £360. 

Hegarty Solicitors provides Legal Aid for family law clients from its Stamford office.  Anyone looking for legal advice who thinks that they might qualify for Legal Aid should contact our Stamford office on 01780 750957 for an initial assessment.