Home > The Court Process > Who Qualifies for Legal Aid?

Who Qualifies for Legal Aid?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 8 Sep 2018 |
 
Legal Aid Funding Family Court Solicitor

Legal aid in England and Wales is a means by which legal services are made available to certain people who would not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer. That means people who earn over a certain amount of money, or have a certain amount in assets or savings, will not be eligible. Some people will have all their legal expenses paid, whereas others will have to pay a contribution towards their legal costs. Those who are automatically entitled to legal aid are those who are on income support, income based job seeker's allowance or guaranteed state pension credit will be entitled to legal aid.

Not Receiving Benefits?

People who are not receiving these benefits may be eligible if they are able to show that their capital and income are within a certain limit. If you are currently living with a partner, their income and capital are also taken into account for these purposes. There is a useful financial eligibility calculator on the Community Legal Service website. You will need to answer a number of questions about your personal and financial situation and the legal problem that you are facing. The calculator also shows you how to work out your disposable capital. It is worth remembering, however, that this is a guide only and you may still be eligible for legal aid, even if the calculator deems you not to be.

Types of Legal Aid

Initial advice and assistance from a solicitor is covered by what is called ‘legal help’. If you need assistance at court, you can apply for ‘help at court’. Do not worry about filling out these forms yourself, as your solicitor will do this for you. You may need to provide proof that you are in receipt of benefits or alternatively proof of your income and capital. In respect of both of these types of legal aid, you need to apply before you attend proceedings as the legal funding cannot be granted retrospectively. If you are entitled to either of these types of legal aid, you will not need to pay a fee at court for lodging proceedings.

If you have to go to court, there are two types of legal aid that are available. ‘Investigative help’ is designed to bridge the gap between legal help and a full representation (court) certificate, and is limited to investigating the strengths of a party’s claim. A full representation certificate pays for your representation in court. It is worth noting that each type of legal funding carries a time limit – over which a solicitor cannot go without seeking prior authority from the Legal Services Commission. Your solicitor will not be able to go over these limits without an extension. If the extension of funding is not granted, you will need to pay for the rest of the work to be completed.

Finding a Legal Aid Firm

This can sometimes be harder than you think, as firms that are franchised to undertake family law matters are only allowed to take on a certain number of cases and can fill their quota. Some solicitors offer a free half an hour consultation to ascertain the nature of your difficulty and advise you as to your option. It is unwise to take advantage of this and ‘shop around’ at several different firms, because you could waste valuable time in terms of your case and are unlikely to get the answers you want within this limited period of time. The best way to find a good law firm is to ask others for a personal recommendation (read the article Does Having A Good Lawyer Help? on this site). If this isn’t possible, go onto the Law Society website and type in your postcode in the ‘I need a solicitor’ box at the top right-hand side of the page. This will enable you to find solicitors’ firms that are local to you.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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@Jules - there is no such thing as a Legal Aid divorce. Legal Aid only exists in a very few cases now i.e cases of family law where domestic abuse has taken place - but not for divorce.
CharlieR - 4-Sep-18 @ 11:11 AM
Can I get legal aid for divorce. Earning 16000 per annum?
Jules - 30-Aug-18 @ 2:07 PM
@ang.do you know what i want( full time care of my daughter) .my x won’t do that so I will wait to my daughter is 18 .i don’t care what my x looks like she thinks she is hot and above my morals dream on .sorry to burst her bubble I no women pride there self on looks and my x is very attractive I am not trying to knock her self esteem around or try and hurt her but she is not for me I was a child back when I was with her and now if I am honest I see ugly toad that would turn on you in a heart beat for a better deal .(hey that’s cool with business )not with family or people you love .my x never loved me gods truth she slept with everyone I had issue with speaks louder then words to me .ps good news I have found peace it’s her lose .
Laurie - 19-Aug-18 @ 2:04 PM
I have a 50/50 shared arrangement with my ex. We have had so much bother, he wasn’t there at all for a couple of years, as he had a mental breakdown. Afterwards, we were able to mutually decide on an agreement which slowly worked up to 50/50. It has been going well for a number of years now. The children seem settled. However, there are a number of factors that have come to play recently that have left me feeling really unsettled with the contact he has; as ONE example, he has a drug addict/dealer currently living in his home! I have tried to speak with him, we had one conversation which went well. But since, absolutely nothing has changed. The children go to his house, but he is often at work, and whilst he has them half the time, he in no way puts in half financially. Not even 10%! I have always said it’s not about the money, but I’m sick of paying it all, whilst he swans about buying extravangant things for his other children who live with him all the time. I sadly feel I am at a point now where I will have to get a lawyer again, and hope we can work things out in mediation or similar! I have no idea though if I would still be entitled to legal aid, does anyone know anywhere online I can find this out? I tried a calculator on the gov.uk website and it wasn’t very specific! Just said you ‘maybe entitled’ I wanted something more informative so I had a deeper understanding. It pains me no end the amount of women that use their kids against the other parent, and here I am giving up half of my kids childhood to someone who isn’t putting them first! Thanks for reading. Tres frustrated mum!
Ang - 19-Aug-18 @ 3:44 AM
even if i could get legal aid i wouldn't use it .who wants the burden of a child when you break up with someone ?.not me my ex got the short straw in my book she has to pay for schooling cloths books sports and social plus the drama of teenagers and never have a social life .sounds like donkey work to me .i only have to worry about my next hot date i get of tinder .
c.laurie - 18-Aug-18 @ 3:13 PM
Hi, My stepson has ended his relationship with his girlfriend, they have two kids. The mother has stopped all access to the children and is threatened the police if any of his family turn up. He is not in receipt of any benefits but is a low earner. He has threatened to stop payments to his ex (something I have tried to tell him that he must keep paying). He is, as are we, in the dark as to where we stand legally. It seems to be such a minefield out there where legal matters are concerned. Any pointers on where we need to start and what we need to do to get a legal ball rolling would be very much appreciated. Many thanks. S
Stevie-ray - 18-Aug-18 @ 12:56 PM
Shirl - Your Question:
My son was in an abusive relationship with a manipulative woman. He has a moderate learning difficulty and has been abused physically, attacked with a knife, financially, getting him to pay for a holiday that he can no longer go on. Emotionally, she will no longer allow him to see his 5 month old daughter. He is an emotional wreck. He works full time but is on minimum wage. He received a letter from a civil court telling him that his ex partner was perusing a non molestation order. She accused him of throwing a brick at her window. This not true. She sent me a txt the evening before she alleged the attack accusing me. My son was given this letter on a Friday evening and the case was heard on the following Monday morning. Hardly enough time for my son to seek help. So she has this order. Can anyone advise us please.

Our Response:
You son may be able to appeal to the court where he had the hearing if he feels there’s been a serious mistake. You’ll have to get permission to make the appeal and there’s usually a fee. You can read the guidance on how to make an appeal via the link here . If your son wishes to apply for access to his child, he would have to go through the process laid out via the link here . Unfortunately, the non molestation order will have an effect if it stands when your son applies for access.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-18 @ 2:30 PM
My son was in an abusive relationship with a manipulative woman. He has a moderate learning difficulty and has been abused physically, attacked with a knife, financially, getting him to pay for a holiday that he can no longer go on. Emotionally, she will no longer allow him to see his 5 month old daughter. He is an emotional wreck. He works full time but is on minimum wage. He received a letter from a civil court telling him that his ex partner was perusing a non molestation order. She accused him of throwing a brick at her window. This not true. She sent me a txt the evening before she alleged the attack accusing me. My son was given this letter on a Friday evening and the case was heard on the following Monday morning. Hardly enough time for my son to seek help. So she has this order. Can anyone advise us please.
Shirl - 5-Jul-18 @ 5:11 PM
To the man being abused by his girlfriend: You must speak to your doctor/social worker about this, get it documented. You need to urgently get away from your narcissistic partner! That is NOT love, it is abuse, end of. You and your child are both at risk, physically, mentally and emotionally. You do have a way out... plan it and get out fast with your child ...talk to your doctor and/or social worker immediately, and any good sane reasonable family/friends. I see your post is dated Feb 2018 so I am hoping that you’re both still alive. I am appalled that you’ve had no response/advice/help on here to date! Bless you.
Dee - 4-Jul-18 @ 12:22 PM
Dolly - Your Question:
I my husband and myself have been taken to court by our local housing due to things we have not done and have some proof of this. Housing have offered us a move with top priority and pay for moving, our solicitor strongly suggest that we agree as housing have several proffesonal witnesses ( word no concrete proof ). This has also been advised due to us having to pay housing legal costs which could go as high as £25,000. Also my husband's legal aid will be stopped due to housing giving a solution which is " reasonable ". My husband is on income support but I am not, I get top rate DLA, in both and ESA.Please can you help me as my solicitor has just informed me my legal aid has been refused due to my benefits not matching the criteria. Please please help me.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot comment on individual cases.
SeparatedDads - 11-Jun-18 @ 3:44 PM
I my husband and myself have been taken to court by our local housing due to things we have not done and have some proof of this. Housing have offered us a move with top priority and pay for moving, our solicitor strongly suggest that we agree as housing have several proffesonal witnesses ( word no concrete proof ). This has also been advised due to us having to pay housing legal costs which could go as high as £25,000. Also my husband's legal aid will be stopped due to housing giving a solution which is " reasonable ". My husband is on income support but I am not, I get top rate DLA, in both and ESA. Please can you help me as my solicitor has just informed me my legal aid has been refused due to my benefits not matching the criteria. Please please help me.
Dolly - 8-Jun-18 @ 1:33 PM
Ace - Your Question:
My Ex (never married) and I have one child (4 years old). I have a girlfriend of 3 months and is demanding my ex is demanding she meets her as my Girlfriend has met my Son. if my ex doesn't meet her, she will turn up at her work and talk to her or will stop me from seeing him. Does she have a right to do that on that basis and isn't that harassment?

Our Response:
In situations such as this, you may wish to suggest mediation to your ex as a way of trying to resolve such issues. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 3-Apr-18 @ 3:04 PM
My Ex (never married) and I have one child (4 years old). I have a girlfriend of 3 months and is demanding my ex is demanding she meets her as my Girlfriend has met my Son. if my ex doesn't meet her, she will turn up at her work and talk to her or will stop me from seeing him. Does she have a right to do that on that basis and isn't that harassment?
Ace - 2-Apr-18 @ 9:43 PM
I've gone through mediation the ex refused to attend. So should I take the next step for the free 30 minutes with a solicitor?
Jj78 - 23-Feb-18 @ 4:49 PM
Jj78 - Your Question:
Would you recommend I have the free 30 mins with a solicitor? I've told the exes sister the next step for me will have to be court. She's said that's my decision but I will end up seeing my son less. Currently see him Fri to a Monday. But not every week or being informed and all different times seeing him and different times collecting. Even if I ask for a extra day or night told no then on the day they are going to collect him usually after 6 I ask where they are and then get told there's something come up so they will collect him tomorrow. While I love having my son it's all her way and to do with what she wants not what's best for our son.

Our Response:
You would not be allowed to apply to court unless you have requested your ex attends mediation first. Please see link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 23-Feb-18 @ 3:14 PM
Would you recommend I have the free 30 mins with a solicitor? I've told the exes sister the next step for me will have to be court. She's said that's my decision but I will end up seeing my son less. Currently see him Fri to a Monday. But not every week or being informed and all different times seeing him and different times collecting. Even if I ask for a extra day or night told no then on the day they are going to collect him usually after 6 I ask where they are and then get told there's something come up so they will collect him tomorrow. While I love having my son it's all her way and to do with what she wants not what's best for our son.
Jj78 - 23-Feb-18 @ 10:01 AM
Mayer - Your Question:
My partner has two children, aged 7 and 9, and we have them regularly, every alternate weekend and through out the week when he has days off work, his shifts are rotered each which so they change all the time, his ex girlfriend/ current wife has put in a child maintenance case claiming we only have them a couple of times a week. Dwp says we have to pay £145 a month, we are on basic wage and it would leave us with -£92 at the end of the month. He has tried to contact her and come to an agreement stating that if we do pay this we will be left homeless and all she had to say was it isn’t her problem. The children’s have told us and showed us that there’s isn’t any food in the house as she didn’t need to buy any because either we have them for tea or his mum does or her mum does, she works in the day from 11am to 7pm so the children have to be looked after by others. The kisses have also told us that they don’t get a bath except for Monday’s when they go to swimming lessons and they’re clothes don’t get washed unless they do it them selves because the mother said “it’s their responsibility”. We have seen how dirty and smelly they aren’t when they come to us, we are on a lower wage than the money she gets and when we have them they never want to go back home, she claims money for them,£175 a week, and it’s not going on them. My partners belongings are still at her house (sofa,wardrobes,flatscreen tv,playstation 4, beds,tables) he left them there’s for the children. She has never asked us once for money as She says she hasn’t enough with the weekly allowance. Now he had a surprise phone call saying she’s file doesn’t a child maintenance case. What do we do? We want the children to live with us permanently, and so do the kids. We’re attempting mediation but will it work? And how can we have the children live with us? Fathers get a rubbish hand of the deal when it comes to Kids and we’re frightened she’s going to stop them from seeing us.

Our Response:
There are many questions in your posting. Firstly, all non-resident parents (i.e your partner) by law have to financially contribute to the day-to-day welfare of their children. This can be through a family-based arrangement, where parents decide between them, or via CMS, based upon the non-resident parent's income. The receiving parent does not have to justify how they spend this money. If your partner wishes to apply for residency of the children (which is a completely different issue), he would have to take the matter to court if mediation breaks down. However, it is rare the court will decide to hand the children to the other parent, unless there is very good reason. If you seriously feel the children are being negelcted, then you can see more via the NSPCC link here.
SeparatedDads - 22-Feb-18 @ 2:28 PM
Jj78 - Your Question:
Hi my ex constantly stops me seeing my 2 1/2 year old son. I've no contact with my ex (blocked on everything by her) had the police at the door over harassment even tho I said all I'm doing is asking for contact with my son. She said she stared mediation which was a lie. So I started it and she refused to go when she received the letter for the meeting. Since then everything goes through her sisters and they don't let me know what's happening till the day I'm supposed to have him (Friday) and then ive been let down with no contact and made up excuses. I'm unemployed and have little money to go to court. All I want is regular access and to be informed of schooling, his health and other ofaspect of his life. I'm at my wits end as this has been going on for a year. So I know I need a solicitor but I have no financial backing and I'm currently unemployed. Help is needed thank you.

Our Response:
We'll start from the point of your ex refusing to attend mediation. If your ex has refused, then you would have the option to apply to court. If you cannot afford court fees, please see link here. You also do not need a solicitor, please see link here . You might also wish to join our Separated Dads forum, where our members (who have been through the process previously) can help and advise. The court form you will need is a C100, please see link here . You can also see more about the court process via the link here . It is not advisable to harass your ex as this could harm your case for access, especially if you are charged by the police as a result. Your best option is not to keep contact with your ex to the minimum and take the legal route.
SeparatedDads - 22-Feb-18 @ 12:03 PM
Hello myx burns me with cigarettes cheats all the time but i still love her .she only spits on me now .the hitting has got better now she only punches me and headbutts me .no forks or pans or belts .she said she does it because i need it .i know i do because i am slow and shame her in pubic because she is a model .and she locks me in the cupboard ..i want to leave this women and take my child but she takes all my money.please help
help - 21-Feb-18 @ 11:48 PM
Hello I am disabled mentality I was with a women who abused me take all my money make me pay for her horses .make me watch her have sex with my uncle they tie me up and hit me force me do stuff stick things in where they don't belong .I: n pension disabled she hides my child what do I do to see her please help me.plus I had stoke on top of my specialness .
victim - 21-Feb-18 @ 11:24 PM
My partner has two children, aged 7 and 9, and we have them regularly, every alternate weekend and through out the week when he has days off work, his shifts are rotered each which so they change all the time, his ex girlfriend/ current wife has put in a child maintenance case claiming we only have them a couple of times a week. Dwp says we have to pay £145 a month, we are on basic wage and it would leave us with -£92 at the end of the month. He has tried to contact her and come to an agreement stating that if we do pay this we will be left homeless and all she had to say was it isn’t her problem. The children’s have told us and showed us that there’s isn’t any food in the house as she didn’t need to buy any because either we have them for tea or his mum does or her mum does, she works in the day from 11am to 7pm so the children have to be looked after by others. The kisses have also told us that they don’t get a bath except for Monday’s when they go to swimming lessons and they’re clothes don’t get washed unless they do it them selves because the mother said “it’s their responsibility”. We have seen how dirty and smelly they aren’t when they come to us, we are on a lower wage than the money she gets and when we have them they never want to go back home, she claims money for them,£175 a week, and it’s not going on them. My partners belongings are still at her house (sofa,wardrobes,flatscreen tv,playstation 4, beds,tables) he left them there’s for the children. She has never asked us once for money as She says she hasn’t enough with the weekly allowance. Now he had a surprise phone call saying she’s file doesn’t a child maintenance case. What do we do? We want the children to live with us permanently, and so do the kids. We’re attempting mediation but will it work? And how can we have the children live with us? Fathers get a rubbish hand of the deal when it comes to Kids and we’re frightened she’s going to stop them from seeing us.
Mayer - 21-Feb-18 @ 8:27 PM
Hi my ex constantly stops me seeing my 2 1/2 year old son. I've no contact with my ex (blocked on everything by her) had the police at the door over harassment even tho I said all I'm doing is asking for contact with my son. She said she stared mediation which was a lie. So I started it and she refused to go when she received the letter for the meeting. Since then everything goes through her sisters and they don't let me know what's happening till the day I'm supposed to have him (Friday) and then ive been let down with no contact and made up excuses. I'm unemployed and have little money to go to court. All I want is regular access and to be informed of schooling, his health and other ofaspect of his life. I'm at my wits end as this has been going on for a year. So I know I need a solicitor but I have no financial backing and I'm currently unemployed. Help is needed thank you.
Jj78 - 21-Feb-18 @ 7:02 PM
merv - Your Question:
Hi. Me and my ex split up over 2 years ago and we have 2 boys. And she keeps stopping me from from seeing my boys because I keep changing my days because I work shifts. And now I have not seen them in 3 weeks and she has told me to take her to court. So I need some advice please how to go about it in a nice way and how much would it cost me. Considering am self employed Thankyou mervyn

Our Response:
The article; When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here, should tell you all you need to know. However, as highlighted in the article, you cannot apply to court until you have suggested mediation first. Court is always seen as a last resort. You can see what mediation entails via the link here . Hopefully, the matter will not get to court and your issues can be resolved beforehand. The article here may also help if you wish to keep terms amicable. With regards to qualifying for Legal Aid, you would not be eligible. Most fathers represent themselves in court if they cannot afford legal fees, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 8-Feb-18 @ 10:04 AM
Hi.Me and my ex split up over 2 years ago and we have 2 boys. And she keeps stopping me from from seeing my boys because I keep changing my days because I work shifts. And now I have not seen them in 3 weeks and she has told me to take her to court. So I need some advice please how to go about it in a nice way and how much would it cost me. Considering am self employed Thankyou mervyn
merv - 7-Feb-18 @ 2:49 PM
Hi, some advice would be very helpful please. I separated from my wife 2 and a half years ago, I live on my own in a 1 bedroom flat, whilst the wife has the marital home. I contributed to all aspects of the house in question from August 2004 to 30th June 2015, meaning mortgage etc. The Marriage quite simply broke down on a lot of factors. I want6 to go for a Divorce, but I'm not sure if I qualify for legal aid.As I'm on state benefits, and I have just turned 64, with health problem, I cant realistically see me ever working again.My income from benefits is approx. £650 a month, I'm on esa (contribution based). I asked my wife to make me an offer of a settlement out of the value of the marital home, to which she refused, I did this as I do not want this dragged thru the courts..I have a nearly 12 year old son, I cant afford to contribute to his upkeep, but, he stays with me every weekend from after school till he goes back to school on Monday morning. My wife fosters children, can still claim benefits seemingly, so I think I'm getting the short straw here. My questions are thus,,,,,can I get legal aid for a divorce (on grounds of being apart 2 years), and what percentage should I be allowed from the sale of the marital home ? (when I met my wife she only had the mortgage just over 2 years). Any advice is helpful.
Gizzmo - 9-Jan-18 @ 4:13 PM
I have a induction order against my husband because of domestic violence. I have to go to court on the 14th Dec 2017 and my solicitor hasn't yet filed the papers to the court what will happen that day.
Boboo - 8-Dec-17 @ 2:37 PM
Kaz - Your Question:
My daughter wants to no if she can get help with costs for a solicitor to take ex to family court as he will not let her see her two sons who live with him

Our Response:
Unfortunately, applications for legal aid are very rare. You can check via the gov.uk link here to see if she may be eligible. If your daughter cannot afford legal representation, then she can represent herself, please see link here. Self-litigation has taken over from Legal Aid. Before your daughter applies to court (as court is always seen as the last resort), she would have to suggest mediation to her ex in order to try to resolve the issues informally, please see link here . Please also see link here, which may help further.
SeparatedDads - 1-Dec-17 @ 1:58 PM
My daughter wants to no if she can get help with costs for a solicitor to take ex to family court as he will not let her see her two sons who live with him
Kaz - 1-Dec-17 @ 6:35 AM
My ex has done a flit with my son and stopped all contact with myself and whole family as she left alot of debt behind i have started access proceedings but need to submitt c4 form to find her how long and what is the process . We miss him so much.
stuffy - 22-Nov-17 @ 5:28 PM
Dg - Your Question:
My ex is stopping me from seeing my son for no reason atall it is upesetting me to see him upset she has told me she does not want me to have anything to do with him

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, you do not have to accept her decision, please see link here . If you cannot afford legal representation, you can self-litigate, please see link here. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. The courts do want fathers to have a relationship with their chidlren, and it will do its best to make this happen where it can.
SeparatedDads - 14-Nov-17 @ 3:02 PM
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