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Legal Aid changes cause confusion for domestic violence victims

View profile for Graeme Barclay
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Since legislation changes in April 2013 regarding access to Legal Aid there have been a lot of misconceptions about what has and hasn’t changed, in particular for domestic violence victims.  Graeme Barclay, Partner of the Family Team at Hampshire based law firm Warner Goodman LLP, sets the record straight on the rights that domestic violence victims have when it comes to accessing Legal Aid.

“Prior to April of this year individuals looking to divorce, requiring assistance with children related matters, or victims of domestic violence could seek Legal Aid purely based on their financial status,” begins Graeme.  “Now that the new laws have been implemented, this has changed, but only for divorce, financial or children related matters, not for cases solely based domestic violence.”

Graeme explains, “If a victim of domestic violence wishes to apply for a Court order or injunction against their abuser, then there is still no additional evidence required for them to qualify for Legal Aid. They will still need to provide proof of their financial means as has always been the case, but if their circumstances mean that they need urgent protection from the court this can still be obtained.  The only situations when a domestic violence victim may need to provide additional evidence to receive Legal Aid are if they also wish to start divorce proceedings, pursue a financial claim or make arrangements for their children.  Satisfactory evidence includes a restraining order, or confirmation that the victim has stayed in a refuge.”

Graeme concludes, “While the Legal Aid changes have brought with them some restrictions, it’s important to understand exactly what has been changed.  The last thing we would want is for someone who has suffered domestic abuse to be silent purely because they don’t believe they can access Legal Aid.  If you are a victim, the support is here and the Family Team at Warner Goodman LLP regularly obtains court orders for victims.”

If you would like more information on the Legal Ad changes, or you’re a victim of domestic violence and need support, contact the team on 02380 717431 or visit the website www.warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.