Domestic violence legal aid reforms

By Clare Peckett, Director & Solicitor, Family Law Department

In January 2018, government reforms will come into force to ease restrictions on legal aid for victims of domestic abuse. The changes mean that from next year, people who have suffered domestic violence will find it easier to access legal support in family law proceedings.

Currently, to qualify for legal aid, domestic violence victims need to present objective evidence from no longer than five years ago. From next January, there will be no time limit.

In addition, the Legal Aid Agency will accept more types of evidence, including statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers. At the moment, the list of acceptable documents is restricted to those supplied by the police, social services or medical professionals.

This is a step forward in assisting those who have been the victims of abuse and who remain vulnerable to their abusers regardless of when the last documented incident occurred. Legal Aid is an invaluable resource in assisting the abused in defending themselves, and their children, from ongoing abuse, and allowing them to create a positive future.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in this area can help you understand your options and take the next steps toward protecting your family. All of our family lawyers are experienced in domestic abuse matters and many are accredited specialists in this area. To speak to a member of our family law team, call 0800 138 0458 or complete our contact form and we will call you back.