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Changes to Legal Aid in Family Law

Legal Aid changes in family law

In April 2013, the rules surrounding legal aid in private family law matters changed dramatically with the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (‘LASPO’). LASPO introduced that not only did you have to meet certain financial criteria but you also now had to satisfy, by way of providing documentary evidence, that the individual applying for legal aid had been a victim of domestic abuse within the last 24 months.

This requirement has proved challenging and unfair at times with many victims of domestic abuse falling outside of the 24 month period and therefore unable to access legal aid. In recent months these requirements have been challenged in the Courts. The challenge was successful and as of the 25 April 2016 the Ministry of Justice has introduced new rules following the Court of Appeal’s Judgement in R (Rights of Women) v The Secretary of State for Justice and the Lord Chancellor.

Previously, if you had been a victim of domestic abuse but your documentary evidence fell outside the 24 month period you would not be eligible for legal aid. The changes that have now been put in place have increased the original time frame from 2 years to 5 years. Therefore, if you were previously told that you were not eligible for legal aid because your documentary evidence fell outside of the 2 year period, you may now be eligible for legal aid if your documentary evidence is dated within the last 5 years.

The Josiah Hincks Coalville Office is able to provide Legal Aid Family Law Solicitors, so please get in touch.