Written by Heather Broadfield

Solicitor at Dootsons Solicitors

Heather is a family law and matrimonial specialist undertaking both legal aid and private work and carries the Law Society Accreditation in family law.

Heather's clients talk of her complete professionalism and care.

“We are arguing all the time over the children. Can I get legal aid as I think we will end up in court?”

It is the sad reality that following the breakdown of a relationship, some parents are unable to reach an agreement in relation to the arrangements for the children and children are often caught in the middle.

No matter how difficult things may be in relation to your ex-partner, or how you feel towards them, it is in the best interests of the child to remain amicable, particularly with regards to the contact arrangements.

Legal Aid is still available for mediation provided that you are financially eligible.

If however you cannot agree upon the arrangements for the children or your ex-partner has prevented you from seeing your child, you may need to make an application to the court.

In April 2013, significant changes were made to the eligibility criteria for legal aid, taking the vast majority of cases out of scope.

Legal aid is however still available when there is evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse provided that you are also financially eligible. It is recognised that emotional and financial abuse are recognised as domestic abuse and victims of such abuse can be eligible for legal aid.

Details of the required evidence can be found by clicking this link

You can do an online calculation to assess your financial eligibility here

To find your local solicitors that carry out legal aid work, enter your town or postcode in the search box on this page

Legal Aid is still available for mediation without the domestic abuse requirements provided that you are financially eligible. Mediation can often be a very effective way of reaching an agreement in relation to arrangements for children without the added pressure, and often significant cost, of applying to the court.

To find your local mediator, click on the this link.

If you do not meet the legal aid eligibility requirements, do not be afraid to seek advice from a solicitor and speak to them about possible funding options. Solicitors can advise you as to the most cost effective way in dealing with cases and assist you in managing your costs by sending smaller, more manageable, monthly bills to assist with budgeting. Some firms also offer reduced hourly rates or offer what is known as ‘unbundled’ services meaning that you can pay for advice or representation as and when you require it without full representation.

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