Eligibility for Legal Aid is no longer simply dependent upon financial circumstances (save for mediation), you usually have to either be: –
- The victim of domestic abuse from the other party, or
- Social services are involved with your family.
If you satisfy the above requirements you them may be eligible for Legal Aid for private law proceedings if you are financially eligible.
You can check your financial eligibility online by using the Civil Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator. You need to and all questions fully and accurately as if you are one penny over it would mean you are not eligible whereas if you are one penny under you could potentially be eligible. Take your time and do this section as accurately as you possibly can. First page asks you to answer a number of questions…For family issues it will be: –
Question 1 – Box 3 legal help, help at court, etc.
Question 2 – You need to confirm whether you are receipt of any of the stated benefits, namely income support, income-based job seekers allowance, income-based ESA allowance or guarantee credit.
Question 3 – You need to answer no as its not applicable to family cases.
Question 4 – You need to confirm whether you have a partner. If you have a partner with whom you live, then you are assessed for legal aid as a family income and their income and capital is relevant for assessment purposes.
Question 5 – Confirm whether either you or your partner are over 60 years.
Question 6 – You need to indicate what category of legal aid you require for example children, finances or mediation. NOTE, if the case is about children issues only, you need to answer or no and yes if it’s financial issues with or without children.
Question 7 – You need to complete the question as to whether or not the opponent is claiming any of your assets, whether held in your sole name or jointly.
You will then be taken to a Capital Assessment page and this relates to the subject matter of the dispute i.e. if property or assets are the subject matter of your case. This is not usually relevant for straight forward children act proceedings it is usually reserved for financial matters.
Property – You will need to complete the financial information fully. Confirming, the current market value, the outstanding mortgage and whether or not it is in your joint names and your percentage ownership.
NOTE: If you own property jointly with your opponent, it is likely that you share is 50% unless you stated otherwise when the property was bought.
You also need to put in the details of your current savings, investments, valuable items or any other capital.
You are then taken to another Part B Capital Section to deal with any other properties or assets not included in Part A. This will need to be completed for children matters, when property/financial issues are not part of the dispute and your capital is also assessed for legal aid purposes.
Income – You will then be taken to your income page and you will need to answer all questions thoroughly. You will need to include your gross income from employment together with any other income you receive which would include benefits, tax credits, voluntary maintenance payments or income from any other source.
Dependants – You then need to confirm whether you have anyone financially dependent upon you. You can only claim a dependent’s allowance for children if you are in receipt of their child benefit.
You will then be taken to a further page where certain monthly allowances are taken into account. The Legal Aid agency do not take all your outgoings only certain ones, for example, housing costs, rent or mortgage. If you have no dependents, the allowance for mortgage/rent is capped at £545.00 regardless of what you pay. You also need to include your tax and national insurance. Pension contributions are not taken into account.
You can also claim an allowance for any maintenance payments you are making to a child and/or former/separated spouse. Childcare costs because of work or payments being made towards a contribution order.
You then need to click the finish button and you will have a decision as to whether you are eligible for legal aid and if so whether you would have pay a financial contribution towards it.