As of today therefore nobody will be able to receive legal aid for family law issues unless the case involves domestic violence (which in itself is a very stringent test); parents involved in local authority care proceedings; forced marriage issues; child abduction cases.
Experts estimate that over 600,000 people will no longer be able to receive publicly funded legal advice for family law issues as a result.
I not sure whether I was surprised or not, but last week I received an inordinate amount of new enquiries regarding divorce/children/domestic violence, in which the client said that they needed legal aid, and whether we offer the service.
I don know whether this was because there is a lack of public knowledge about the changes, whether it has been publicised enough, or whether people have been turning a lind eyeto the issue.
It could of course be because legal aid and access to justice is such a cornerstone of the legal system of England and Wales, that the general public can perceive the thought it won be available for the vast, vast majority of cases. It has to have been somewhat ironic that the changes came into effect on April Fools Day.
Legal aid has been retained however, for Family Mediation cases. Emsleys Family Mediation has been awarded a contract by the Legal Aid Agency, which means that we can offer Family Mediation support to those clients who are financially eligible.
I am certainly not nave enough to think that mediation will wave a magic wand for family law solutions. It is clearly not appropriate for all family law issues and can only succeed in the right circumstances. However, it is at the end of the day an option affording people the chance to resolve their family matters outside of the court arena and at a lower cost.
Emsleys Family Mediation can conduct family mediation in the Leeds area from our offices in Rothwell, Colton Mill, Castleford, Crossgates and Garforth. We accept referrals direct from the general public and from solicitors.Back to Blog