Yesterday most people were enjoying their Easter eggs & (finally) some tentative Spring sunshine. However, Monday 1st April 2013 was also the start of a new and challenging era for family law solicitors, as legal aid is no longer available for Divorce Advice and most other Legal Advice on family law, due to the government’s dramatic cuts to public spending.
In cases where people are in extremis and require urgent Legal Advice on family law, limited legal aid will still be available, for example protection from domestic violence, and public law matters concerning our most vulnerable children. However the vast majority of us will face a stark choice: either find the means to pay privately for Divorce Advice and Legal Advice on family law issues, or go it alone.
Even Lord Neuberger, the UK’s senior judge, has expressed concern about access to justice. Commentators have observed that the net saving to the public purse may be minimal, due to additional court time spent in dealing with people who are without Family Law Solicitors or Legal Advice on family law matters.
We are also extremely concerned. The Bar Council of England & Wales has today published a comprehensive online guide to representing yourself at court, which is both helpful and practical. You may also find it helpful to take a McKenzie Friend to court with you, to provide moral support and take notes (although they cannot address the court without permission). McKenzie Friends are not to be confused with litigation friends who conduct litigation on behalf of someone who does not have capacity, i.e. a child or someone who is mentally incapacitated.
Here at Slater Heelis we are pleased to offer a free initial consultation either in person here at Oaklands House or by telephone. We also offer ‘behind the scenes’ advice if representation at court is not affordable. If you need Divorce Advice, we are very conscious that times are tough and, unlike most other Divorce Lawyers, we additionally offer a fixed fee divorce package where the Grounds for Divorce are not in dispute.
Other forms of dispute resolution should also be considered; our team boasts a number of trained mediators and collaborative lawyers. It’s time to think creatively about family disputes.
For more information, divorce advice or general Legal Advice on family law matters please contact us on 0161 969 3131.