Do you understand what legal aid is? Are you in need of legal aid but have no idea how to get
started? Legal aid is a system set up and funded by the UK government to assist people with
financial difficulty accessing legal representation. Here in the UK, you have the right to free legal
advice if you get arrested or need legal representation. However, not everyone is qualified for
legal aid, as your case type and financial state determine if you can get legal aid.
Legal aid is a set-up that helps eligible people who can’t afford to pay for legal advice, family
meditation, and representation in a court of law or tribunal. You need to know that most of
the time that legal aid doesn’t cover all your case’s costs. You may have to pay part of the costs
upfront or back some of the costs if you win some money or property from your case.
Legal aid can be said to be a human right as it provides access to justice by ensuring equality
before the law, access to counsel, and the right to a fair trial. Legal aid is crucial to ensuring
equal access to justice for everyone, especially people who do not have enough financial
means. The UK government providing legal support to people increases the likelihood of getting
assistance from legal professionals for free or at a cheaper price or receiving financial aid.
You can get legal aid in different forms; it can be through duty lawyers, community legal centers,
and payment of lawyers to deal with cases of people who are entitled to legal aid. You can also
get general legal advice and assistance for free or at a low cost through the UK law centers.
With legal aids, you get:
- Full advice on matters of law, evidence, and procedure
- Representation at court sittings either by a specialized advocate or approved specialized barristers.
- Preparation and consideration of documents on your behalf
- Negotiation with your opponent
To get legal aid, you need to prove that:
- Your case is eligible for legal aid
- Your problem is a serious one
- You meet the expense of your legal costs
- You have the opportunity of getting legal aid if:
- You or your family are at risk of abuse or severe harm, such as domestic violence, assault, etc.
- You’re at risk of losing your home
- You’ve been accused of a crime and may likely face prison or detention.
- You’re discriminated against
- You need family mediation
- Your case is related to the Human Rights Act
Family Law and Legal Aid
People in family cases that can’t afford to pay for legal advice or representation can get legal aid
if they meet the eligibility requirements. The law aid system will pay for you to get legal advice
and representation from a solicitor. Family law involves family problems like domestic abuse,
child arrangement or custody, sorting out finances, and getting a divorce.
With legal aid, you can get family law solicitors in the UK to help resolve issues around your
finances, children, property, business interests, and other complications that may arise from
Family law covers a wide range of other family issues, which may include:
- Divorce Proceedings, you can read more on getting help for family and divorce law here Separation Agreements
- Property and Financial Disputes
- Judicial Separation and Annulment of Marriage
- Collaborative Law, settle your difference without going to court
- Child Law Contact and Residence Disputes, prohibited steps, and specific
- Issue orders, disputed parentage, and Child Abduction
- Child Maintenance and support
- Cohabitation Rights and Agreement
Family cases are funded by Civil Legal Advice and Assistance or Civil Legal Aid. Child Law cases can be supported by Children’s Legal Advice and Assistance or Children’s Legal Aid. The UK government funds legal aid and the Legal Aid Agency administers it.
Family Law Legal Aid Criteria
The rules surrounding legal aid for family laws are complex. Legal assistance is available for some family cases, but the legal aid rules for different types of cases differ.
Legal aid is always available for the following types of cases:
- Orders that have to do with children who have been abducted or removed unlawfully to
a location outside the United Kingdom.
- Cases that have to do with your children that involve the local authority and they are
considering going to court for a care order, supervision order, emergency protection
order, or children assessment order.
You can have access to legal aid for this kind of case regardless of your financial
For some other types of cases, you can get legal aid if you pass two tests set out by the Legal
Aid Agency, the means tests, and merits test. These types of cases are:
- Applications for orders concerning children abducted or unlawfully removed or where
you are afraid, the children may be appropriated or illegally removed.
- Applications for forced marriage protection orders.
- Applications for non-molestation and occupational orders
- Applications for restraining orders
For these cases, you will need to pass both the means and merits test before getting legal aid.
For other types of cases, you will not only need to pass the means and merits test, but you must
also provide evidence that you’ve been a victim of domestic violence. You can only get legal aid
if you can provide specific proof.
These kinds of cases include:
- Divorce and legal separation proceedings.
- Financial proceedings on divorce or split-up of civil partnership
- Child Arrangement Orders (orders dealing with who the child will live with, spend time with, or have to contact with)
- Applications relating to children prohibited step orders
- Child maintenance and applications under schedule 1, Children Act 1999.
For cases involving children, you may have to prove or provide evidence that the child is at risk of abuse by the other party.
Legal Aid Family Law Application
A solicitor should make all applications for legal aid. A solicitor can advise you if you should
qualify for legal aid when they know the circumstances around your case.
To get legal aid, you must make an application at the Magistrate’s court. You must pass two
tests which are:
The means test
The means test decides whether or not you are financially eligible for legal aid. You will need to
provide all your income evidence, such as wages, benefits, and any capital such as savings,
properties and shares.
The Legal Aid Agency will then deduct some allowance for rent, work, children, and other
dependents. The remaining amount is then considered your disposable income. The Legal Aid
Agency will also remove set amounts from any capital you own.
If your income or capital is above the amount specified for legal aid, you will not be eligible for
But if your income and capital are lower than the specified amount, then you will pass the mean
test, but you may have to contribute financially towards your legal aid.
Legal Aid will consider both your finances and your partner’s if you live together, except
your case is against them.
The merits test
The Legal Aid Agency will assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses by putting the
following into consideration:
- The possibility of you winning your case. If your chances of success are low, you’re not
likely to get legal aid.
- If your case’s likely legal costs are reasonable enough compared to the profit you may
gain from succeeding in your case.
- If the case involves money or property, they will consider whether the money you will win
is more than the money that will be spent on your case. For example, if you’re claiming
£1000 from the other party and your case is likely to cost £2000, then your case's merit
It’s possible to get legal aid at the start of a case where it seems reasonable to continue arguing
your case and your success probabilities are reasonably high, but as the case proceeds, the
merits of legal aid continuing may decrease.
You’re more likely to pass the merit test if you’re suffering or at risk of domestic violence.
You can apply for legal aid by filling out the application form online or filling out the physical
form, which you will then send to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). You can apply for legal aid
through a legal firm or a solicitor for easy processing. You must find yourself a professional and
specialized solicitor in family law, just like Zain Legal. Zain Legal is an organization that help
saves client 65% on their legal fees even without legal aid. At Zain Legal, we put in the best
work to ensure we provide value to our clients. WE work together with you until you achieve
your desired goal.
Eligibility for legal aid family law
Qualifying for legal aid depends on:
- the type of case
- financial circumstances
You may be eligible for legal aid if your case involves debt, housing problems, domestic
violence, child abuse, etc. More on the type of cases have been discussed in the criteria
section. To be eligible for legal aid, you must prove that your problem is serious. You will need
to provide evidence about your situation; for example, if it is a divorce case, you will need to
provide a court order or GP letter to show that you or your child have a victim of abuse.
You must also prove that you can’t afford to pay for your legal costs. For this, you will need to
give details and evidence of your income, benefits, savings, property, and those of your partner
if your case is not against them.
Your financial situation may not be considered if your case involves:
- mental health tribunals
- children in care
- child abduction
You can check your legal aid for family law eligibility on the UK legal aid eligibility page.
Legal Aid Family Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Legal Aid Free?
If you can’t afford legal advice or support, you might be able to get free or cheaper help. You
might get free, reduced cost, or fixed-fee advice depending on how much your case will cost or
how severe your problem is. You need to know that most of the time, legal aid doesn’t cover all
your case’s costs. You may have to pay part of the costs upfront or pay back some of the costs
if you win some money or property from your case.
Are legal Aid Solicitors Good?
We have both good and bad legal aid solicitors. But most legal aid solicitors are good because
only selected firms of solicitors are appointed by the legal services commission to provide legal
aid. A legal aid solicitor must pass several qualifying criteria to offer valuable legal aid advice to
Can Legal Aid Help with Divorce?
If you can’t afford the fees for your divorce or legal separation from your partner, you might be
able to clear part or all of the cost with legal aid. There are two types of legal aid available in
divorce or separation cases: advice and assistance, which helps with the costs of legal advice
from a solicitor, and civil legal law, which help with the price of a solicitor if you’re going to court.
What Legal Aid Can I Get?
The type of legal aid you can get depends on your problem. You can get legal assistance for
issues such as mediation, protection from an abusive partner, cases relating to child
arrangement; your child has been taken out of the country illegally, etc.
How to Apply for Legal Aid?
You can apply for legal aid through a solicitor. You can search for solicitors around you if you do
not have one. Ensure you get a solicitor that is specialized in your type of case. Look for a
solicitor that does legal aid and ensure they are verified.
Who gets Legal Aid?
Anyone can get legal aid as much as you meet all the requirements. If your case is severe
enough and you can prove you can’t afford legal costs, you can get legal aid.
Now that you have understood what legal aid is all about you can find out more from us by
booking your appointment today