Legal Aid used to be widely available for low income families, however, from April 2013 legal aid is only available for those falling into the following categories:
Domestic Abuse - legal aid is available for low income people needing injunctions and to deal with financial matters and children. Note that abuse does not include physical abuse but can include emotional abuse and controlling behaviour such as withholding family finances or preventing access to friends and family. You will need to provide evidence in the form of a conviction or caution, injuctive order or undertaking, a finding of fact made by the court, letter confirming violence from the Local Authority, health care professionals, domestic violence refuge or MARAC.
Local authority child protection matters - where the local authority has child protection concerns
Child abduction cases - where there is a history or risk of child abduction outside the UK, or a child has been unlawfully removed within the UK.
Forced marriage - Anyone threatened or forced to marry against their will can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
If you are going through a divorce and are not eligible for legal aid then:
1. Try and resolve things amicably. Seek mediation and avoid a lengthy court process as this will involve high costs.
2. Represent yourself. There are organisations that can help.
3. Use a barrister under a 'public access' acheme, which means that they represent you directly without the need for a solciitor. Many will offer reduced fees for low income families.
See links on the right for further information about public access and respresenting yourself in court.