According to a survey by Citizens Advice and the family lawyers’ group Resolution, of almost 1,000 cases involving family break up over half (54%) needed to be referred to a family law solicitor and over 60% were eligible for legal aid under the current rules. Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, legal aid will be scrapped for divorcing couples (unless there is evidence of domestic violence). The research suggests that eight out of 10 clients needing help from a family law solicitor and eligible for legal aid under the current rules will no longer qualify if the planned cuts go ahead.
‘Our research points to a growing advice gap in relation to family problems,’ said Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy. ‘Mediation and other services can offer an alternative to legal aid in some cases but legal advice and representation, money advice and good quality general advice on family issues are essential to mitigate the worst effects of family breakdown.’
You can read Breaking up is never easy: Separating families’ advice needs and the future of family justice here.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award