Legal Aid for Family Law Cases

Legal Aid for Family Law Cases

From 1 April 2013, the criteria regarding access to Legal Aid for Family Law cases changed.  From this date, legal aid has been restricted.

Legal aid may be available in each of these cases

  1. Social services have become involved with you or your family; or
  2. You wish to apply for an injunction against an abusive partner or family member; or
  3. You want advice on divorce/separation or related children and the other party to the divorce or children case has been abusive towards you.

In all of the above circumstances, the financial criteria for legal aid must also be met. You may qualify if you receive benefits or your income is below £2,657 and you have less than £8,000 worth of savings.  You can check whether you can get legal aid by accessing the court website

If you are not in receipt of lncome Support the calculation as to whether you may be eligible is complicated.

In cases of domestic abuse or child abuse, appropriate evidence must also be obtained before legal aid can be granted.

Are you concerned about of domestic abuse?

Required evidences

  1. Relevant unspent conviction/police caution for an offence of violence against the person applying for legal aid;
  2. Ongoing relevant criminal proceedings;
  3. Family protective injunction;
  4. Undertaking given in court (unless there is a cross undertaking and if there is this will then not apply);
  5. Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Plan;
  6. Copy of court record Finding of Fact;
  7. Letter or report from a health professional (health professional means a registered GP or nurse or midwife;
  8. Letter from social services confirming that there are concerns that a person has been the victim of domestic violence;
  9. Admission to a refuge due to domestic violence for at least 24 hours.

The abuse must have occurred within the last two years.

Are you concerned about possible abuse of children?

Required evidences

  1. Relevant unspent convictions/police caution for a child protection offence;
  2. Ongoing relevant criminal proceedings;
  3. Family protective injunction;
  4. Copy of court record of Finding of Fact;
  5. Letter from social services confirming that a child has been assessed as being a high risk;
  6. Letter from social services confirming a Child Protection Plan is in place due to the behaviour of other party;
  7. Application for family protective order made with an application for a Prohibited Steps Order which is yet to be decided by the court.

The events leading to the risk to the child must have occurred within the past two years.

If you believe that any of the above situations are applicable to you, or you are uncertain whether any of the above applies to you, our team of family law solicitors will be able to assess whether you are eligible for legal aid.

If you are deemed to be eligible for legal aid, we can assist with divorce, separation, financial settlement, and children matters.

It is however important to note that if you win a financial settlement in a family case, you may have to repay some or all of your costs from your settlement to the Legal Aid Agency.  Again, our experienced family law team will advise you of the consequences of accepting legal aid.  You should also note that you may be asked to pay a monthly payment to the Legal Aid Agency for as long as your case lasts.

If the cuts in legal aid that have been recently introduced are affecting you, you may wish to raise your concerns with your local MP.

Alternative methods of funding for Family Law cases

Watkins Solicitors provide a full range of family law services for clients who are no longer eligible for legal aid.  We offer a number of payment options, for example payment may be made by a fixed monthly amount or for many services we offer a fixed fee service.

Family disputes can be complex and it is important that you see a specialist solicitor to ensure that you receive proper legal advice.

Others who may be able to help you


Legal aid is still available for mediation.  There are a number of local mediators whom we have in the past referred clients and these are as follows:-

Bristol Family Mediation Services

The Courts and the Ministry of Justice

If you cannot afford to pay a solicitor, you can represent yourself in court.  The forms and guidance you need are on the Ministry of Justice website

You can also find details of Bristol County Court

or contact Bristol County Court, 2 Redcliff St Bristol, Avon BS1 6GR  0117 366 4800.

If you are having difficulty with the website or are unhappy about the cuts to legal aid, you can contact the Lord Chancellor at as well as your MP to let them know the difficulties you are having.

Social Services

If you are worried about a child’s well being, you can make a referral to social services and ask that they investigate the matter.  If they decide that child protection measures are required then you might become eligible for legal aid, dependent upon the circumstances of the case and your relationship, if any, to the child or children in need of protection.

Domestic Abuse Services

If you are a victim of domestic abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or financial) but have never told anyone about it, then we suggest that you contact us as we may be able to help you obtain legal aid so as to assist you in obtaining an injunction to stop the harassment and/or abuse.  We also suggest that you seek help from the police or local support organisations

Survive supports victims of domestic violence in South Gloucestershire

Next Link supports victims of domestic violence in Bristol

The Police

In emergencies, if you feel that you are under threat of abuse please dial 999.

Avon & Bristol Law Centre

Avon & Bristol Law Centre for people who live or work in Bristol, Bath or North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire operate a one off free 30 minute appointment on either a Monday or Tuesday evening.  The advice is provided by local volunteer solicitors.  You should however note that the solicitors will not be able to draft letters on your behalf and will not be acting for you.

If you would like a any further information,contact

Avon and Bristol Law Centre
2 Moon St Bristol BS2 8QE
0117 924 8662