Sweeping cuts to legal aid set to take effect

Divorce and family law cases are set to be massively affected by changes to legal aid which will introduced at the start of April.

Legal aid is designed to help people pay legal costs which can run extremely high. However, under the new plans legal aid would largely become unavailable to those earning over £20,000. The government has set the maximum threshold qualifying for legal aid at £32,000 however those earning between £14,000 and £32,000 will be put through extensive means tests.

The Law Society has claimed that 650,000 cases will now not qualify for legal aid and 200,00 of these are expected to be family law cases. This means that those with family disputes relating to civil partnership dissolution, divorce, finances, child custody and other issues will have to source alternative methods of funding or dispute resolution. 7 in 10 family cases will be made ineligible for legal aid following the April changes.

In those cases where legal aid is granted, the government is likely to ask for contributions towards court costs which will be work out according to a sliding scale. This will apply to those with more than £300 of disposable income.

As Lord Neuberger (head of the Supreme Court) and various legal advisory bodies have pointed out, the changes are likely to force people to try and represent themselves or seek non-legally binding arrangements. This can be very dangerous and is likely to place massive strain on the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and other bodies.

Dial 01722 422300 to find more about family mediation or collaborative law

Our advice to those who feel that they will be adversely affected by the changes is to look into alternative methods of dispute resolution such as family mediation and collaborative law which we firmly believe are efficient, cost-effective and often less acrimonious ways of solving disputes.

For further information about how our divorce solicitors can help you, dial 01722 422300,

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