We remain committed to providing legal advice and representation to clients of modest financial means and are the only firm in Basingstoke to offer legal aid assessments to clients in the widest possible range of family circumstances.
The information below is a general guide to legal aid for family law and if you think that you might be eligible for legal aid, please contact Elizabeth Ford who will discuss your particular circumstances in more detail.
The availability of legal aid depends on a number of criteria and you may need to satisfy them all to qualify. Following changes in government legislation in 2013, many clients will now be required to prove that they have experienced domestic abuse (including physical and emotional abuse as well as controlling behaviour), from the other person who will be involved in their case. This is likely to apply if you want advice about divorce or separation, financial and property issues or arrangements for your children. If your situation is about children, you may instead be asked to provide proof that your child is at risk from a relevant other person.
In addition, we will almost always need to assess your financial circumstances and look at your capital as well as your income from all sources. You will be asked to provide up to date proof of this before we are able to advise you.
There are some circumstances when you might not need to fulfil all of these criteria. These include if you are under 18 years old or if you need advice about protecting yourself from violence or abuse from your partner or a family member. If you have already reached an agreement through mediation, we may be able to draft documents for you without proof of domestic abuse. You will automatically qualify for legal aid if the Local Authority applies to the court about your child and we may be able to offer you legal aid at the early stages of Local Authority involvement with your family.
The rules about legal aid are complex. For more information, please refer to the Legal Aid information in the Resources section. We are always happy to discuss your personal circumstances in more detail.
We understand that many clients with low incomes no longer qualify for legal aid under the new rules and that you may be concerned about how to pay for your legal advice. Again, please contact us to discuss this as we offer fixed and tailored fees in some circumstances. We may be able to accept payment of some of our fees by instalment.
LEGAL AID FOR MEDIATION
Legal aid is still available for mediation and the rules about domestic abuse do not apply. Our mediators will just need to assess your income and capital to see whether you will qualify. We will ask you to bring proof with you to the meeting and will need the documents before we can confirm whether you are eligible. When you contact us, please let us know that you would like to be considered for a legal aid assessment.
If you qualify for legal aid, you will not need to pay for the mediation sessions or for the outcome documents to be drafted. If your partner qualifies for legal aid but you do not, you will still get your initial appointment and the first mediation session for free.