18 March 2013

How the Changes Being Made to Legal Aid May Affect You.

I was a bit worried about the new cutbacks to legal aid being made. I certainly could not have divorced my arrogant twerp of a husband without it, so I asked a firm of Solicitors to spell them out and this is what they said.  It is pleasing to report they're not nearly as bad as many fear for women (and some men, also, not forgetting) who desperately want to get out of a situation that is unhealthy for them, especially where there are children involved.  Although my husband never hit me - he bullied me mentally and emotionally.  All in all, he is a very cruel man and legal aid proved to be a lifeline for me:

For when this isn't enough!

Divorce rates have been falling over recent years but they’re still common.
Separation is a big step and one not to take lightly and many are put off by
potentially harming the kids and worry of not being able to afford legal fees. If the
latter is the case then it is only going to get more difficult. The legislation that is set
to pass will see legal aid cut for many who need it.  This will make 
finding the right divorce solicitors even more imperative than
before. With the already sky-high costs set to increase, the importance of using the
right firm and considering your options has never been more important. 

Earlier this month the government announced that, in an effort to cut £2 billion
in annual legal fees, it will slash the number of cases in which people can claim
legal aid. With many mums out of work during the early years to take care of their
children, it is common to feel unable to afford a divorce regardless of whether your
relationship was still savable or weren’t even on speaking terms – something I am
sure many separated women can relate to! As such, your spouse might not want or
be able to pay the entire divorce fee himself. Being able to seek legal aid has been a lifeline for many women, funding solicitors to help work through the proceedings, meaning that there isn’t as much financial struggle. It seems now though, that other women will not be in such a
fortunate position.

From April of this year, the government will make changes to the Legal Aid,
Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, removing legal aid funding from some
types of cases. This includes private family law, including divorce and custody battles
and could be a nightmare for any women in this position. Women will have to pay
privately for legal aid and advice, which could leave some – especially those with
children to support – in a tricky position.

However, the news is not all bad. Those women who are seeking to escape
from harmful marriages will still be able to claim legal aid, as it will continue to be
available for family law cases which include domestic violence and forced marriage.
Hopefully you are not in this position and found a breakdown due to arguments
and lack of co-operation. It is likely that domestic abuse cases, such as emotional
blackmail or mental bullying will be allowed certain legal aid after the Ministry
of Justice said: “We have laid an amendment to the legal aid bill which will put it
beyond doubt that those who have suffered physical, psychological or financial
domestic abuse will continue to receive a legal aid to help them to resolve any
separation disputes over property or child contact." Women who are in this needn’t
despair. Although many have relied on legal aid for help, the top solicitor firms offer
dispute resolution guidance to help improve relationships – meaning that husbands
may be more likely to foot the divorce bill!  And remember, many firms also offer extensive free legal advice.