As of 1st April 2013, legal aid in civil cases changed dramatically thanks to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). The changes are far-reaching and will affect an enormous number of people who need help with funding for their legal problems. It is estimated that some 200,000 who would have been entitled to legal aid before 1st April will no longer be entitled to it, as the Government seeks to cut its legal aid bill.
At the moment, as an example, if you meet the financial criteria you will get legal aid for your divorce, to sort out contact with your children and to sort out the finances after divorce. As of 1st April 2013 you will not and, in simple terms, only those private family law cases where there is evidence of child protection issues or domestic abuse will get legal aid. No domestic violence and you foot your divorce bill yourself.
This certainly gives the potential for disparity, with many commentators observing that in reality it may be women who will feel the hit the most. This much is certainly right: it may well be that only one party to a divorce can afford to pay privately whilst the other cannot, and in those cases now for the most part, the level field will not be levelled with the other party being represented and funded by legal aid.
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