Divorce and Legal Aid


The current position

At the present time, Legal Aid is available for what are known as 'private' family cases (ie divorce cases). To secure public funding for your costs, you will need to show that you are financially eligible for Legal Aid, and that your case has a good prospect of succeeding.

 Legal Aid Cuts to Divorce cases

Currently, it is possible to obtain 'Legal Help' to cover all steps leading up to the issue of proceedings. This covers initial steps including advice, preparation and negotiation. Funding for representation at Court is known as 'Certificated Legal Aid' and is available if your divorce has a financial element.

For a more detailed breakdown of legal aid see here.

Forthcoming changes to Legal Aid and how they impact upon divorce cases

On 1st April 2013, the Government’s widely publicised cuts to Legal Aid will come into force. Strict constraints will mean that Legal Aid cannot be obtained for divorce matters, unless domestic violence is alleged, and this will therefore affect the vast majority of cases.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the cuts to Legal Aid will also impact upon what are known as 'Private' children matters (such as disputes relating to residence and contact) and after 1st April, Legal Aid will not be available in these cases either. The importance of acting swiftly is equally important if you are involved in such a dispute, or if you are considering divorce proceedings and anticipate a dispute involving your children.

What steps could be taken now?

If you are considering an application for legal aid in respect of a private family law case, it is important that you act urgently to secure funding before the Legal Aid cuts come into force. Simpson Millar’s family law team are able to offer the independent specialist knowledge needed on a Legal Aid basis, but eligibility must be confirmed and proceedings must be issued well before the 1 April deadline.

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