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Legal Aid Cuts Forcing People to Represent Themselves in Court

One year ago, on April 1st 2013, the Legal Aid Agency drastically cut funding in family law, which resulted in many people and families facing tough choices - find the money or represent themselves.


Family law can be a minefield to navigate. The family law solicitors at Forbes can help determine whether you are eligible for Legal Aid and represent you in your dispute.

Those previously eligible for Legal Aid, which involved advice and legal representation, were suddenly unable to claim free legal advice. This led to, as Lord Neuberger predicted, some people feeling like they no longer had access to justice resulting in some taking the law into their own hands as they were unable to afford Solicitors.

These cuts in funding left people who could not afford proper legal representation, to try and pay for it themselves, borrow from family or take out costly loans from financial institutions. Not surprisingly it left those in need of justice to fend for themselves in a court of law.

With some choosing to represent themselves in an attempt to resolve disputes, without any legal training whatsoever, the result was longer court hearings which had an unfortunate effect on the number of hearings actually considered by the courts.

However Legal Aid is still available for matters on divorce, financial remedy and court matters relating to children where an element of domestic abuse is present or there has been an involvement of children’s services.

Although there will be further changes made by The Legal Aid Agency to establish what terms and criteria are eligible for Legal Aid on the 22nd of April 2014, these changes will still not assist a majority of people with their unresolved issues regarding residence and contact arrangements. 

Worryingly, there can be a serious lack of justice due to these cuts. For example, if a parent does not return a child following a contact visit to the parent with care, and unless the parent with care has a residence order, the only option available to get the child back is through an application to the court.

However if children’s services have been involved or there is evidence of a parent being a victim of domestic violence, the parent can make an application for legal aid, as long as certain criteria is met and financial eligibility has been determined.

Family law can be a minefield to navigate. The family law solicitors at Forbes can help determine whether you are eligible for Legal Aid and represent you in your dispute.

However if you are not eligible for Legal Aid, Forbes can still help. Forbes Solicitors are family law specialists with experience in handling all aspects of family law.

We can tailor our services to all clients giving you an estimate on costs involved. We also have a range of fixed fee services allowing all our clients to select how much legal advice they might need, no matter how much or how little, Forbes Solicitors can help you resolve your family law issues.

If you need to find out whether you qualify for Legal Aid, or need legal representation and advice, contact the family law specialists at Forbes Solicitors on 0800 037 4628 or visit today.


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