There is welcome news this week with significant amendments to the rules governing Legal Aid in family cases, which in the words of the Vice President of the Law Society ‘make it easier for victims to qualify for legal aid and access essential help and support.’

Tim Burt is a Solicitor in our Family law department. Here, Tim looks at what the changes mean for victims in need of legal assistance.

Until now, applications could be made for Legal Aid in children matters, such as disputes relating to who a child can live with or spend time with (formerly contact and residence) only if it could be shown that the applicant had been the victim of domestic abuse within the last five years, or if there was evidence that the children were at risk of child abuse within the last two years.

This has now changed, as has the range of documents which are accepted as evidence.

Removal of the five/two year time limits

There is no longer a time limit in place for the evidence of either domestic abuse or child abuse concerns, although there is still a requirement to provide objective evidence from specified categories.

New categories of evidence

The evidence must demonstrate either how the applicant has suffered from, or is at risk of, domestic abuse, or how the children have suffered or are at risk of child abuse.

It is now possible to submit statements from domestic abuse organisations as well as housing support officers. Other acceptable forms of evidence include:-

  • A copy of a protective injunction (such as a
    Non-Molestation Order, Restraining Order or Forced Marriage Protection Order);
  • Medical proof (such as a letter from a GP);
  • A copy of a relevant conviction, caution or
    arrest, or ongoing criminal proceedings into a relevant offence
  • A copy of a Social Services Assessment

If you are in need of protection and advice, speak to one of our friendly experts. We can answer any questions you may have about evidence of domestic abuse and child abuse concerns, and how the law can help.

Legal Aid applications are still subject to a financial and evidence-based test, and we can also explain how this works. Don’t delay in seeking help- call 0113 284 5000 or pop into one of our 11 offices today.

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