If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, the idea of facing a court case can be daunting – and even more so if you’re worried about affording legal fees. But help may be at hand under the Government’s Legal Aid scheme. If you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible to have all or part of your legal costs covered. In this blog post we cover what kind of matters you can get legal aid for and how to find out if you are eligible.
What kind of matters can you get Legal Aid for?
You can get legal aid for a range of family matters where domestic violence or abuse has been a factor. This includes:
- Private family law matters e.g. divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership, property and children matters where there is evidence of domestic violence, domestic abuse or child abuse.
- If you are a victim or at risk of abuse and need a court order to protect you or your children
- If you are a victim or at risk of abuse and you need legal advice on family matters
- Protection from being forced into marriage or help if you are in a forced marriage
Domestic violence and abuse is not just physical violence – it also refers to psychological, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. Click here for more information about how to recognise abuse.
What you need in order to be eligible
To get legal aid, you will need to submit an application to the Legal Aid Agency. In order to accept an application, the agency requires 1 piece of written evidence – this means that you will need to show that you or your children were at risk of harm. It is possible to submit a letter as evidence and this can be from various professionals or organisations, including:
- The police, courts or social services
- A health professional
- A multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC)
- A refuge manager or domestic violence support service
- Your bank
- Your employer or education and training provider
- Your benefits provider
To get the evidence, you can print off a sample letter from the Government’s site to send it to the person you are asking for the evidence, and they can fill in the relevant details. When you have this back, show the evidence to your solicitor and they will be able to advise you on how to take things forward.
There are also certain financial limits to qualify for legal aid. Your gross monthly income must be £2,657 or less. If it is under this threshold, your solicitor or adviser will also check how much of this is deemed ‘disposable income’. If your disposable income is £733 or more, you will not be eligible. Your savings and the assets you own will also be taken into account when deciding whether you are eligible.
What to do next
If you are in doubt about eligibility or you need help with making your application, a specialist family solicitor will be able to offer guidance at each step. At Crisp & Co, our highly trained domestic violence solicitors have many years’ experience helping victims of domestic violence and abuse to get the justice they deserve. We can assist you in getting the evidence in order and submit your application to the Legal Aid Agency. To find out more, get in touch today on 020 3797 4952 or send us an enquiry via our website.