Q What family law cases can I get legal aid for?

A You can still get legal aid for the following cases:

  • Care proceedings or child protection matters (where the local authority is involved with your children)
  • Wardship proceedings (where children are made wards of court) s Unlawful removal of children within and outside the UK (for example one parent taking a child out of the country or jurisdiction without the permission of the other where an order is in place or retaining a child after contact in breach of a contact order)
  • Non-molestation orders and occupation orders (protective injuctions) – legal aid may be available to both parties
  • Forced marriage
  • If you are a child and wish to be represented by your own legal adviser in family proceedings
  • EU and international agreements regarding children or maintenance (for example, enforcing a foreign order in England or Wales)
  • Help with mediation (if you are in mediation about your family dispute, you can obtain legal advice to run alongside it)
  • Family Mediation Legal aid is also still available in the following cases if you can provide evidence that you have been a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of the person who will be the other party in the case, or evidence is provided that the child that would be subject to court proceedings is at risk of abuse from the respondent in those proceedings:
  • Children Act cases
  • Financial orders
  • Divorce

Q Am I automatically entitled to legal aid if my case is about one of the above?

A Not necessarily, even if you are receiving benefits. You will need to provide details of your financial position and be means-tested to see if you qualify. Additionally, your solicitor will need to consider whether your case has legal standing (the merit test) as legal aid won’t fund cases which are unlikely to succeed. You may also need to provide evidence that you have been a victim of domestic abuse (see below).

The exception to this is care proceedings or pre-proceedings meetings, when the means test does not apply if you are a parent or person with parental responsibility, so will be entitled to legal aid regardless of finances.

Q What should I do if I think that I may be entitled to legal aid?

A If you want to progress your case, and are unsure if you are eligible, then contact a local legal aid solicitor. They will be able to give you more information and complete a full assessment to tell you whether or not you are eligible. You can also contact the Legal Aid Agency directly or consult their website www.justice.gov.uk In Oxfordshire, you can contact Family Matters on 01865 406038 or 406009 and they can assist you with whether you are entitled to Legal Aid or not and, if you are, help you to find a legal aid solicitor.