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

Who Qualifies for Legal Aid?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 11 Oct 2017 |
 
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.

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Hi my friend is from Thailand and is married to English man but are now separated she is trying to get access to daughter and cant afford solicitors
Ross - 11-Oct-17 @ 10:18 PM
Mutley - Your Question:
My ex partner died and I'm on low wage,we have children together but family has his property as we were estranged. They have become less accommodating as promised to my children can my 15yr old get legal help against them

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:48 PM
My ex partner died and I'm on low wage,we have children together but family has his property as we were estranged. They have become less accommodating as promised to my children can my 15yr old get legal help against them
Mutley - 7-Oct-17 @ 1:22 AM
I applied for LA in support of a Barder event following a divorce but I could not provide the medical evidence in time seems that even though the court failed to send the papers to me In Good time even the Pro Bono unit couldn't help so even with mental health issues I was forced to be a Litigant-in-Person and most likely did not present my case well. The changes to the legal aid system has had a devastating effect on the outcome from my divorce particularly where the court has failed to recognise the mistakes they have made.
Dr Grumpy - 21-Sep-17 @ 7:35 AM
paula - Your Question:
My partner is out of work and not claiming benefits how can he get help in court with legal aid as he's been told he's not entitled to it

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely he will be awarded Legal Aid, he can self-litigate, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 14-Sep-17 @ 12:38 PM
My partner is out of work and not claiming benefits how can he get help in court with legal aid as he's been told he's not entitled to it
paula - 13-Sep-17 @ 6:29 PM
Rob - Your Question:
Hi, I have two children with my ex. We have been separated 3 years now and want to have full custody of my children. My son is 11 and my daughter is 4 years old. Can I make this happen?

Our Response:
It is rare a court will changed the resident parent unless absolutely necessary. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. As a rule, the court will attempt to maintain the least disruption as possible and will not move children from one parent to another without a very good reason. In which case you should seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 11-Sep-17 @ 3:42 PM
Hi, I have two children with my ex. We have been separated 3 years now and want to have full custody of my children. My son is 11 and my daughter is 4 years old. Can I make this happen?
Rob - 9-Sep-17 @ 3:22 PM
My partner has 3 children to his ex wife. she has since had 2 other children to 2 different fathers and is now in a 3 bed house with 5 children to 3 different dads. she is currently part co-habiting with the latest father who also has custody of 2 children. When my partner and his exs relationship broke down he went to find himself I guess and admittedly disappeared for 2 years he left her everything and he was forced from the home and told if he left her he would never see the kids. admitidly he never paid csa during this point or had any contact and not that im making excuses but as a young lad he didn't know where to turn. he came back and a year after met me and for 3 years we have been together and I have been with him and found out his rights. he is a very good dad and initially his ex was having none of it however through mediation which we paid for and she got for free he got to see them every other sunday in a play centre for 3 hours supervised, this then went to unsupervised, then I was aloud to attend, then his ex came saw our house saw we had a room all set up for them and via mediation we were aloud to have them from 10-5 at our house he picks them up every other sunday. he was wanting contact to increase to over night stays however his ex refuses this, he would like his sister who has never met them and his mother who only met them once to be part of their lives but his ex refuses for no logical reason other than when the eldest was born his mum said to him and her that they have options as were both very young. the mediation sessions his ex ruled them and overpowered the conversations with discussions around money, due to the benefit cap she has been hit hard which we understand and talks money all the time, my partner pays csa however they have messed a few things up and delayed things due to him moving jobs and a small period of unemployment. we are not paying backdated money and he is paying 710 a month out of a 1800 salary straight to her which is actually crippling us as a couple. for this reason paying a solicitor is just not a option. due to mediation revolving around money and the contact not developing my partner wrote to mediation and asked for the next session to not be around money and to be about contact, his ex refused therefore mediation failed and they sent me their part of a c100 form to which we have filled out a c100 ourselves with a copy of this and are looking to self represent. all he/we would like is every other weekend full contact from Friday night till sunday evening, shared 50/50 contact during school holidays,. ability to let his mum and sister be part of their lives, involvement in educational and medical appointments and a open line of communication.
Charlie - 8-Sep-17 @ 3:10 PM
Deb - Your Question:
I have a 13 month old boy who's father isn't present at all in his life ' he just comes and go's as he pleases 'And now he's told me he is done being his father and that he will find my son when he's older to understand !! What can I do about getting all parental rights over my son ' I don not want my sons father in his life at all now

Our Response:
By what you have said, your ex does not want your child in his life which means you naturally have parental rights i.e if he returns in a few years time, you can automatically deny access and your ex would find it more difficult to have access re-instated through the courts. However, once your child is an adult there is little you can do regarding your ex making contact with your son.
SeparatedDads - 29-Aug-17 @ 3:39 PM
I have a 13 month old boy who's father isn't present at all in his life ' he just comes and go's as he pleases ' And now he's told me he is done being his father and that he will find my son when he's older to understand !! What can I do about getting all parental rights over my son ' I don not want my sons father in his life at all now
Deb - 29-Aug-17 @ 1:40 AM
Al85 - Your Question:
So my situation is, my ex partner doesn't let me see my children. Our relationship contained DV and after all that she was letting me see my children, but when she found out I was talking to another woman and because I was out with the children and it was pouring with rain, I took them home after an hour and a half as I had no money to take them anywhere and it was pouring down. She then claimed I let them down and has refused to let me see them in 3 years. I have EUPD which is an emotional personality disorder therefore am on disability, unfortunately due to no legal aid I don't have the sort of money for solicitors fees etc so it's a struggle and makes me look a bad father because I haven't managed to do anything about this. But not seeing the two most important people in life does affect me emotionally as it would any father and obviously I can't represent myself due to mental health and the background and I don't know what to do am at my tether with it because it does get me down but just seems there is no help

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If you cannot afford the hefty legal fees, you can self-litigate, please see link here , should you wish to take the matter to court. However, in the first instance you can apply for mediation, which you also should get financial help with if you are in receipt of benefits.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-17 @ 11:19 AM
So my situation is, my ex partner doesn't let me see my children.Our relationship contained DV and after all that she was letting me see my children, but when she found out I was talking to another woman and because I was out with the children and it was pouring with rain, I took them home after an hour and a half as I had no money to take them anywhere and it was pouring down.She then claimed I let them down and has refused to let me see them in 3 years.I have EUPD which is an emotional personality disorder therefore am on disability, unfortunately due to no legal aid I don't have the sort of money for solicitors fees etc so it's a struggle and makes me look a bad father because I haven't managed to do anything about this.But not seeing the two most important people in life does affect me emotionally as it would any father and obviously I can't represent myself due to mental health and the background and I don't know what to do am at my tether with it because it does get me down but just seems there is no help
Al85 - 14-Jul-17 @ 11:05 PM
ash- Your Question:
The story is my ex partner took my now 16 month old daughter, and promised to hand her back, but he hasnt, I have been to the police but they cant do nothing as he is on the birth certificate, I think its down to jealousy as I had told him the night before he took my daughter I was seeing someone else. I am so depressed and miss my daughter so much, and my lawyer is useless, and things dont seem to be going anywere, I only see her once every other few weeks through social work, which is not enough, I just dont know what to do next. and I just heard my ex partner has been refused legal aid, so dont know whats going to happen next, going to take ages for him to reapply for the legal aid

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Please see link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here which will tell you what you need to do.
SeparatedDads - 29-Jun-17 @ 3:10 PM
the story is my ex partner took my now 16 month old daughter, and promised to hand her back, but he hasnt, i have been to the police but they cant do nothing as he is on the birth certificate, i think its down to jealousy as i had told him the night before he took my daughter i was seeing someone else. i am so depressed and miss my daughter so much, and my lawyer is useless, and things dont seem to be going anywere, i only see her once every other few weeks through social work, which is not enough, i just dont know what to do next. and i just heard my ex partner has been refused legal aid, so dont know whats going to happen next, going to take ages for him to reapply for the legal aid
ash - 28-Jun-17 @ 2:19 PM
Hi, For the first 5 months of my daughter life i always there and hands on with regards to her well-being. My partner moved out 4 months ago saying she wanted to end things. For the first 6 weeks of this time I had overnight contact with my 6 month old (3 times). After that time, i was denied all access without reason, i was blocked so i could not even contact my ex, (I did write letters formally asking for permission) and now its been 3 months of not seeing my daughter. I am in the process of mediation. we both have the appointment next week. On what grounds can my partner deny overnight access? I understand the contact will need to be built up and I am willing to build that up for my daughters sake. Its sad that she may have forgotten my face as she is so young. But can my partner refuse overnight access? If I do go to court, is there any idea of how much contact I will be entitled to? Thanks
M - 13-May-17 @ 5:09 PM
How can somebody be receiving lega aid representation when they are lying about thier income? This person has also been scheduled to work 40 hours a week at $9.60 hour and has not been showing up to work . In fact out of the ten days they were scheduled to work the past two weeks they only showed up to work three of those days. Where is this fair to those people who do go to work and get turned down for help.
Danyale - 29-Apr-17 @ 5:23 AM
My ex is refusing to move contact forward I want to have my daughter overnight and my ex is not letting me until she comes to see my home which me and my current partner aren't happy with you I tried to set up mediation to solve this but she didn't show up now I'm thinking Court might be the only option as I don't feel that she should have the right to come into my home also she is very biased more than anything to use an excuse to cut or stop contact can't assured legal
Mankind84 - 1-Apr-17 @ 11:00 AM
Samie- Your Question:
Hi I have a 3 year old girl lived with from being born my partber ha s a older daughter wich I took on as my owm for.8 years she never seen.her dad coz he was a drug user. I spent tgousands on her over years I gv everything the needed. Howerver she got bk intouch with her dad as she got the age 13 my child was only 1 soon as tht happend my parents home got targeted by her dad a had a hatred towards her from thn cz she caused it. By teling tales her mam wud stand by her watxhing her x smash her babys girls nans home.up I took a lot ov shjte for years and ended it. Now soon as av walked av been told am.nlt t see my child she cahnged al.number and I carnt go t her home cz she rimg the police. Im gutted a miss my baby gorl.so much. I think.its disgraceful how woman czn use children as a weapon

Our Response:
If your ex is denying you access to your daughter, please see link here. If you cannot afford to be represented by a solicitor you can self-litigate, please see link here. You may wish to suggest mediation to your ex, which you have to do before the courts will let you apply. If your ex says no, then the sooner you push ahead with taking the matter further, the sooner you will get to see your child as the process can take time.
SeparatedDads - 15-Mar-17 @ 2:43 PM
Hi i have a 3 year old girl lived with from being born my partber ha s a older daughter wich i took on as my owm for.8 years she never seen.her dad coz he was a drug user.I spent tgousands on her over years i gv everything the needed. Howerver she got bk intouch with her dad as she got the age 13my child was only 1 soon as tht happend my parents home got targeted by her dad a had a hatred towards her from thn cz she caused it. By teling tales her mam wud stand by her watxhing her x smash her babys girls nans home.up i took a lot ov shjte for years and ended it. Now soon as av walked av been told am.nlt t see my child she cahnged al.number and i carnt go t her home cz she rimg the police.Im gutted a miss my baby gorl.so much.I think.its disgraceful how woman czn use children as a weapon
Samie - 15-Mar-17 @ 12:53 AM
steveo - Your Question:
Well ive just come out of jail and I have a 6 year old and im not allowed to see her cause the mother wont let me I just dont know wot to do and go about it. I give the mother over two hundred pounds a month and she still wont let me see her and the worse thing is that im not on the birth certificate so I dont know wot to do please give me some advice im in need of it.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are two separate issues and have no bearing on each other i.e paying child maintenance doesn't give you guaranteed access rights. You are required to pay child maintenance by law whether you see your child or not. If you are not on the birth certificate, then you can apply for parental responsibility, please see link here which is awarded through court if you are a non-registered father. Rarely do the courts refuse an application for PR. If you wish to see your child, then you would have to apply for a C100 contact order. If you are working, but can't afford legal fees, you would have to self-litigate, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:51 AM
well ive just come out of jail and i have a 6 year old and im not allowed to see her cause the mother wont let me i just dont know wot to do and go about it. i give the mother over two hundred pounds a month and she still wont let me see her and the worse thing is that im not on the birth certificate so i dont know wot to do please give me some advice im in need of it.
steveo - 9-Mar-17 @ 10:46 AM
had a boy, hes four now but after two weeks after birth mrs stopped me seein him, not seen him since, was never allowed to send even a card etc etc she got 3 kids by 3 dads and no dads see the kids coz of her. i went to court initially but she was a pro and i had a breakdown and quit the case. now four yrs later im still in temporary housin awaitin a flat but my question is .. can i get legal aid or not? sum sites say yes sum say no, im confused. any help would be appreciated if anyone knows anything, i live in greenwich
e - 8-Mar-17 @ 1:54 PM
Law 24 - Your Question:
My son has a little boy aged 6 years. My son split from his ex 4 years ago and at first he was allowed to see his child but when his ex became involved with a new partner access was denied. We did see a solicitor at the time but was told we would not get legal aid and the court costs were just too much for us to afford. We have heard recently that someone going through the same scenario has been granted legal aid. Would my son be now able to claim legal aid to pursue access. He is in full time employment but on a low income. Any assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely your son would be awarded Legal Aid, as most of the service has been withdrawn. The majority of people who cannot access Legal Aid, self-litigate, please see link here and with good results (if they prepare their cases well). I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:37 AM
My son has a little boy aged 6 years. My son split from his ex 4 years ago and at first he was allowed to see his child but when his ex became involved with a new partner access was denied. We did see a solicitor at the time but was told we would not get legal aid and the court costs were just too much for us to afford. We have heard recently that someone going through the same scenario has been granted legal aid. Would my son be now able to claim legal aid to pursue access. He is in full time employment but on a low income. Any assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Law 24 - 23-Feb-17 @ 12:46 PM
Hi, My partner was recently made redundant. He also divorced in 2015, his ex wife got money from the sale of the house he was left with their debt, and was treated appallingly by the judge and her solicitor said that he was a 'Walter Mitty' when in reality she has made up utter rubbish and has made him out to be the liar. Anyway, he had regular contact with his children, 2-3 times a week where he even out the children to bed etc. Over the last year he moved up to be with me, which has led her to only allow him to see the children for 4 hours in a Sunday which has now been reduced to 2hours. It's breaking his heart. This is not conducive for a decent relationship with his children. Where does he stand on getting legal aid? What are his chances of getting decent quality time with his children? She will not even allow him to take the children out for walks. He had a high paid job in the NHS but due to cut backs he was made redundant. He has never been in trouble with the police etc. We need to have help.
Sad_partner - 22-Dec-16 @ 8:43 PM
Hi, it's hard to know what to put here but really I'm just after some legal advice and best way to go around things on 14th Feb 2013 me and my ex partner split and she took my daughter away from me in a very cruel manner basically she had reported me to police saying I had knocked her teeth out causing in my arrest for a.b.h I had to go through court in which it was all a lie the courts looked at all evidence and soon realised that I hadn't knocked her teeth out she had pulled them out herself but I did admit to pushing and spitting at her in which the courts charged me with so called common assault I admit spitting is a vile thing to do but in my circumstances it felt like the right thing to do at the time I was given 18 months probation order plus 100hrs community service. Since finishing probation I have tried contacting my ex to try to get some sort of access but whilst doing this I have had death threats in order to keep me away from my child which had now given me no other option but to go through courts.. only problem is I don't have the money to go through court or pay solicitor fees as I'm currently on benefits is there any possible way of going through court without the possibility of court fees or solicitor fees or is there any other ways of doing things... Any advice would be a godsend as I'm a father who loves and misses his daughter deeply and all I want is a chance to be in her life
Always hoping - 9-Dec-16 @ 11:30 PM
Matt - Your Question:
Hi, my ex doesn't let me see my daughter anymore. She won't let me see her anymore because I used to leave her home alone, Admittedly I don't pay cms, and am on a deduction of benefits order. I haven't made any contact with her or asked to see my daughter in over a year. I also at the beginning of the year told her I didn't want to parent anymore. I have applied for mediation with legal aid help but my daughters mum can't come for about 12 weeks, I don't know why, but the mediation service said it was for good reason. I declined waiting, and have my mediation appointment next week. Can I still get legal aid for court? And what can I apply for?

Our Response:
It is rare that Legal Aid is given these days, you would have to self-litigate if you wished to pursue the matter through court, please see link: Legal Aid Withdrawal: How to Represent Yourself here.
SeparatedDads - 9-Dec-16 @ 2:09 PM
Matt - Your Question:
Hello in may I was seriously attacked and now due to a disability I'm unfit to work and claim ESA. Since this my Childs mother has stopped contact with him. Am I entitled to any help or do I just have to let her continye what she is doing as I can't afford help ?

Our Response:
Please see link: Legal Aid Withdrawal: How to Represent Yourself, here. In the first instance you should request your ex attends mediation in order to try and resolve the issue outside of court, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. Legal Aid is still available for family mediation for people on a low income or receiving benefits. However, if the matter has to go to court, you will also be eligible for your court fees to be waived, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 9-Dec-16 @ 12:41 PM
Hello in may I was seriously attacked and now due to a disability I'm unfit to work and claim ESA. Since this my Childs mother has stopped contact with him. Am I entitled to any help or do I just have to let her continye what she is doing as I can't afford help ?
Matt - 9-Dec-16 @ 8:37 AM
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