Ian Walker

Ian Walker – Founder/ Director/ Solicitor/ Mediator/ Arbitrator

Legal Help and Representation

This page is not about the type of legal aid and social services and care proceedings. If social services are taking you to court or are threatening to take you to court to remove your children, then a free legal aid is available. You need to get in touch with us as soon as possible.

There is also a separate page about how legal aid works with regard to family mediation.

There is also more about how legal aid works are now legal aid homepage.

This page is about the legal aid scheme for the other types of family law work which can be covered by legal aid. These are essentially child arrangements (for example where children live and how they see parents and other family members), protection (for example non-molestation orders and other protective orders) and divorce and sorting out the financial arrangements following a divorce.

Legal Help and Legal Representation

There are essentially two levels of legal aid

Legal Help

The legal help scheme is a very limited scheme which allows for some initial legal advice. This is initially limited to 2 hours’ time (including our preparation time). In some circumstances it can be extended. This doesn’t go much beyond a good meeting and follow-up letter setting out our advice and perhaps answering follow-up questions or then completing the application for legal aid for court proceedings.

This scheme would also allow us to assist a client to apply for a divorce.

This legal aid is means tested.

Using similar fact evidence to support your case

Wife supporting her husband in therapy with the man listening curiously to the counselor

Unless the legal help is about obtaining a protective order, then gateway evidence is needed.

There is more about the legal aid means test and gateway evidence requirements on our legal aid homepage.

Legal aid is controlled work – which means that we conduct the means test and gather the information on behalf of the legal aid agency. The legal aid will then check our file later.

What can be done under the scheme is limited.

Normally someone applying to us for legal help will need to attend our office in Exeter. There are circumstances in which the legal help application form can be signed out of the office or the agreement approved by an exchange of emails (because of Covid 19).

Legal help is normally a steppingstone to obtaining representation for an application to the court – or it is pretty much a one-off advice meeting.

Legal Representation

If someone wishes to make an application to the court for a family law order they will need to have a Legal Aid Certificate. This is certificated work. The legal aid application is submitted to the legal aid agency who assess the means of the applicant and the merits of their case.

This legal aid is therefore means tested and merits tested.

There is more about the means test on our legal aid homepage.

Unless you are seeking legal aid to obtain a protective order, you will need to provide gateway evidence. This is evidence of past domestic abuse (which could be in the very recent past) or it could be evidence of risk of harm to a child. There are detailed and specific requirements as to who can provide the evidence of risk/harm and what needs to be covered in a letter or document. We have reproduced a link to the guidance on our legal aid homepage.

If legal aid is granted, then it will be quite specific about what work can be undertaken.

Without wishing to complicate matters further, there is a type of legal aid called Help at Court which is similar but slightly different to Legal Representation. For the purposes of simplicity we have referred to both of these as Legal Representation.

Contributions to legal aid

Depending on a persons means, they may be asked to pay a monthly contribution towards the cost of their legal aid.

The Statutory Charge

If the case or part of the case is about money (financial relief in connection with the divorce), the statutory charge will apply.

This means that if a legally aided person recovers or preserves money/assets as a result of having legal aid – they will be asked to repay the cost of their legal aid from their settlement/assets. If the legally aided person does not have the means to pay the legal aid agency back straightaway (because they are using their settlement buy a home), then the legal aid agency will secure the debt by placing a legal charge on that home – which means that they will make sure they are paid back eventually.

More on this topic

Legal Aid Homepage
Legal Aid Homepage

More about legal aid including the means test and gateway evidence

Read more
Legal Aid and Family Mediation
Legal Aid and Family Mediation

Find out how the legal aid scheme works for mediation cases.

Read more
Legal Aid and Social Services Cases
Legal Aid and Social Services Cases

Parents and those with parental responsibility are entitled to free legal aid if social services take them to court

Read more
Our contact page
Our contact page

Here is a link to our contact form

Read more