News

10

Mar

Legal Aid Now Available For Victims of Domestic Violence

Government makes long-awaited changes to help victims of domestic violence obtain legal aid

The Ministry of Justice has, at long last, relaxed the rules on evidence that has to be obtained before a victim of domestic violence can get Legal Aid to assist with sorting out a divorce or finances or arrangements for children after a separation.

The current Legal Aid situation 

Since April 2013, in order to qualify for Legal Aid, clients who had suffered domestic violence had to produce a specific piece evidence from a list such as ‘evidence of an unspent conviction’ or caution against their ex for a domestic violence offence.

The list was narrow and meant that many victims who may have felt too fearful to access support from professional bodies or report incidents to the police were not able to obtain legal aid to help them move on with their lives.

How is the help going to change?

  • This list is going to be “significantly broadened” and will include evidence from domestic violence support organisations. It is hoped that this will mean more clients can qualify for Legal Aid and receive the help they need in order to rebuild their lives and have a happy future.
  • The current time limits on when these types of evidence would remain valid (for example any caution had to be given within the last 5 years) are going to be removed. It can take many victims a long time to build the courage to deal with matters arising from a separation, so they would often miss out on Legal Aid simply because they were not ready to proceed within the deadline.
  • Furthermore, perpetrators of domestic violence often remain a threat to clients for a lifetime, and those clients need the protection of a solicitor to be able to get closure without having to deal directly with the perpetrator.

An experienced team to guide you through the legal side of domestic abuse

The change follows a 4-year campaign by the Law Society and Resolution, and is welcomed by our family law team, who believe in access to justice and pride themselves on supporting and protecting vulnerable clients.

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