What is legal aid?

It helps with the costs of legal advice for people who cannot afford it. It funds solicitors to advise people on their legal problems and if necessary represent people in court.

In April 2013 the government removed many types of cases from the scope of legal aid funding and said that other cases will only qualify when they meet certain criteria.

Which cases qualify?

Whether you qualify for legal aid will depend on the type of case and your financial eligibility.

Types of cases

Funding was removed from many areas of civil law including private family law, such as divorce and residency battles over children. But you might be able to get legal aid for:

* Protecting yourself or your child from abuse or harassment
* If you’re the victim of domestic violence or are at risk of being a victim of abuse, need advice on your right to stay in your home and need a court order to protect you
* Advice on finances, children or divorce if you’ve been in an abusive relationship
* A child in your family is at risk of being taken into care
* To stop children being removed from the UK or get them returned if they have been unlawfully removed
* To enforce European Union and international agreements about children and maintenance
* For Family Mediation. Depending on your ability to pay, and whether mediation is assessed as being right for you.


Eligibility will depend on a number of factors and it is advisable to obtain proper advice to find out what you could be entitled to and what other help is available.

Those in receipt of income support, income-based job seeker’s allowance, guarantee pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance will automatically be eligible for civil legal aid.

Otherwise a person will qualify if they have a gross monthly income not exceeding £2,657, a monthly disposable income not exceeding £733 and disposable capital of £8,000 or less.

The figure for “disposable” income is reached by deducting allowances for items such as tax, maintenance payments, a set amount for employment expenses, rent/mortgage payments and an allowance for dependants. When calculating disposable capital, the first £100,000 of equity in a person’s home is disregarded. Where the property is the “subject matter of the dispute” a more generous disregard is applied.

Where do I find a legal aid solicitor?

You can search for firms who provide legal aid on solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk. You can also search for a legal adviser or family mediator with a legal aid contract on find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk.

What options are available to people ineligible for legal aid?

Many people will have to pay privately for advice. Often solicitors will offer fixed fee or pay as you go packages to help limit the cost of the process. Even if you decide not to use a lawyer, an initial conversation with a lawyer can help signpost you to suitable help, advice or alternative support services.