If you have experienced domestic abuse and you cannot afford a solicitor, the Legal Aid Agency may be able to provide some financial assistance.
For some cases, legal aid will cover all the costs. If your income is low but not quite low enough, or if you have savings or you own a property with some capital, you may have to pay a regular contribution towards the cost.
Watch our video about Legal Aid
For most disputes between parents or extended family members, for example about where your child lives/when you see your child, and for disputes about finances when you divorce, legal aid is only available where there is evidence that you are a victim of domestic violence or that the child is at risk of abuse from the other person involved.
To apply for legal aid, you will need to find a solicitor who does legal aid work. Your solicitor will need to fill out some forms with information provided by you. If it is an emergency, a solicitor may be able to obtain emergency funding before these forms are completed.
Legal Aid checks
There are three checks that the Legal Aid Agency carry out to establish if you qualify for some support. To access legal aid, you will need to show that you meet a means test (your income and capital must be quite low), that your case is strong enough (this is called a merits test) and that your case is covered by legal aid (this is called scope).
Exceptional Legal Aid
In some cases, where it is very difficult to represent yourself you may be able to apply for “Exceptional legal aid”. This is meant to help people for whom the court process cannot be made fair without them being represented – for example where people really need the help of a lawyer either because the case is so complicated or serious, or because they have a difficulty in representing themselves. If you think you might qualify for exceptional legal aid you will probably need to find a solicitor willing to help you fill in the application.