Applying for Legal Aid - What you need to know

Cumbria Family Law are committed to providing Legal Aid to clients on a low income who may not otherwise be able to afford legal advice. If you wish to apply for legal aid, please read the information below to assess whether you qualify and if so the evidence you need.

What does legal aid cover?

  • Family mediation to resolve disputes about children and finance on a relationship breakdown or divorce / dissolution.
  • Social Services being involved with your children.
  • Injunctions against a violent or abusive partner or family member.
  • Other family problems if you or your child have suffered or are at risk of violence or abuse.
  • Forced marriages.
  • If your child has been or is about to be taken out of the country without your consent.
  • Some High Court proceedings about the welfare of your child.
  • If you have been served with proceedings under the “Hague Convention”.

Is legal aid free?

If Social Services are taking you to Court or have written you a letter saying that they are going to start court proceedings, then Legal Aid is free. If your case does not involve Social Service, you may have to pay some of the costs upfront or pay back some of the cost if you win money or property from your case.

Check if you qualify for legal aid?

To check if you qualify for legal aid, please CLICK HERE to carry out the government online assessment.

If you qualify, what evidence do you need?

  • If you need legal aid for help with Social Services, you need to provide us with a letter from Social Services confirming they have issued or intend to issue proceedings in respect of your child. You do not need financial evidence because legal aid for this service is free.
  • If you need legal aid for help about domestic violence towards you or a child, you need to provide us with financial evidence. You do not need to provide evidence of domestic abuse.
  • If you need legal aid for help with divorce, separation, child arrangements or financial arrangements, you need to provide us with evidence of domestic abuse and your financial evidence.

Evidence of domestic abuse

If you need to provide us with evidence of domestic violence, you can obtain the evidence from:

  • The courts
  • The police
  • A multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC)
  • Social services
  • A health professional, eg a doctor, nurse, midwife, psychologist or health visitor
  • A refuge manager
  • A domestic violence support service

You can CLICK HERE to use these sample letters to ask for evidence that you are the victim of domestic abuse from the police, courts and other agencies.

You can CLICK HERE to use these letters to get evidence of child abuse if you need legal aid to stop a partner seeing your child.

Financial Evidence

If you need to provide us with financial evidence of your means, you can obtain the evidence from:

  • Your bank, eg credit card accounts, loan documents and statements
  • Your employer, or education or training provider
  • The provider of any benefits you receive

You can CLICK HERE to view a checklist to determine the financial evidence you will need to provide to us.

Important information about applying for legal aid

  • When you come to see us, you must bring the evidence we need to determine your eligibility for legal aid. If you are unsure about the evidence we need, we will discuss this with you during your free case assessment.
  • You are not in receipt of legal aid until all the relevant forms are completed and up to date evidence supplied. By up to date we mean the most recent month.
  • If you need to produce financial evidence, you should produce evidence for both you and your partner (unless your partner is the person who would be the other party in your case).
  • Deductions from income are limited to housing costs, set allowances for each child, a dependent partner, employment expenses and maintenance paid.
  • If you are eligible for legal aid on the basis of income it does not mean that you will be eligible for legal aid on the basis of capital.
  • The rules about mortgage allowances are complex. Only the first £100,000 of a mortgage is taken into account when calculating capital.
  • If you fail to bring the correct evidence to your first meeting, or we may need to cancel the meeting or make a charge for our time, because until we have all forms fully completed with supporting evidence, we will not be paid by the Legal Aid Agency for the work we do.

Next Steps

Once you have completed the legal aid assessment and obtained your evidence, please arrange an appointment with us to complete your legal aid application.