Is Lack of Legal Aid the Cause of Absent Fathers?


Are you a young father between the ages of 18 and 24? Are you worried about how you're going to see your child after leaving your partner? These are some of the main concerns Bob McAra, partner and family law solicitor in our Leeds office, has to deal with on a daily basis.

Absent Fathers and the Lost Generation

As a new generation of fathers emerges, they are being left behind in the whirlwind of legal aid cuts the government is making to try to save the economy - but at what expense?

Generations of children may be facing the prospect of growing up without a father in their life, because their dads simply can't afford the fight to see them through court.

Although mediation is a cost effective alternative, it's not suitable for all parties. Often the parent who has custody of the child will put restrictions on when and how the other parent can see them. This can be a rollercoaster of stress and emotion, especially when it occurs over a long period.

Litigating in Person a Bad Idea?

For those that do want to take the issue to court and cannot afford a solicitor, they become litigants in person. This means that throughout the court process you will be representing yourself, completing and filing your own paperwork. Some of these young men come to Bob for advice because they "simply can't face the legal system" alone. For those that do try and go it alone, in many cases they end up "throwing in the towel over custody" and leaving their children behind without access to both parents.

Not only are parties being left to figure out their own divorce arrangements, they're also having to deal with custody and maintenance of the child, adding more pressure to the situation. Where these proceedings become complicated, parties are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Cuts - An "Absolute Travesty"

It doesn’t matter how low the fees for a private solicitor get, for some, this will always be just an arm's reach out of their budget, especially for those who are on low paid jobs or unemployed.

When Bob was asked what he thought of the current situation, he described it as "an absolute travesty" that the next generation could be entirely fatherless due to these hard and fast cuts.

The repercussions of this are a lost generation with no male guidance, a mess that the government won't be able to clear up in a hurry.

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