The future of family law 2013 and onwards
Family Law will see one of the biggest changes in decades in April 2013 with the availability of Legal Aid reducing dramatically. Traditionally Legal Aid has been available for those who need legal advice in relation to divorce, children and financial matters on separation provided they meet the financial eligibility criteria. From 1st April 2013 this will no longer be the case. Those who have been granted Legal Aid before that date will continue to receive it until their case ends, but any new applications will be dealt with under new criteria.
The Legal Services Commission which is responsible for providing Legal Aid will become known as the Legal Aid Agency from 1st April 2013.
The new rules will mean that Legal Aid for divorce, children and financial issues will only be available to those who can produce sufficient evidence that they have been a victim of Domestic Abuse within the previous 24 months. Legal Aid will however continue to be available for applications for injunctions and care proceedings.
The Courts and Legal Aid Agency will encourage people to try to resolve their issues through mediation. People will be expected to meet with a Family Mediator before making an application to the Court. If people make an application without attempting mediation it is likely that the Court will want to know why and, in some cases, the proceedings may be adjourned by the Court in order for the parties to mediate. Legal Aid will continue to be available for those meeting the financial criteria for mediation services.
Legal Aid will also be available for people who are in the process of mediating so that they are able to access legal advice about any agreements that they are considering making through mediation. This is because Family Mediators are not able to give legal advice.
It is likely that solicitors’ firms will offer fixed fee services for family work to enable those who previously would have been represented under Legal Aid to obtain advice.
Wolferstans offers a fixed fee service and will be happy to discuss payment options. Wolferstans also offers a Mediation Service.
For information about legal work please contact our New Client Co-ordinator Sarah Webb on 01752 292239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about mediation please contact our Mediation Co-ordinator Morwenna Luxford-Leach on 01752 292315 or email@example.com.