What public funding is available in family law cases?
What is public funding?
Public funding is the funding which can be available to people wishing to pursue a legal case but who may have a low income and would otherwise not be able to put forward a case because of their financial means. For family law clients there are a number of levels of assistance available. In each case there will be a ‘means’ and ‘merit’ test in order to establish if a client is eligible for public funding. Public funding will only be given if there is a strong benefit to the client. The current income limit is £2657 per month. If a person earns more than this amount per month then they will not be eligible for public funding. In some of the levels of assistance there may also be further considerations. Public funding is by no means given out without careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding each case.
Who administers the funding?
The public funding is administered by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The Commission delivers two schemes. There is the Criminal Defence service (CDS) and also the Community Legal service (CLS). These schemes were introduced under the Access to Justice Act 1999. Family Proceedings are civil proceedings and therefore fall under the CLS. A report carried out by Lord Carter resulted in the system falling under intense scrutiny and as a result it is likely that the system will experience big changes in the future. The LSC have future plans to amend the system and make the access to legal services even better for disadvantaged clients.
Levels of Assistance
The level of assistance available in family law cases is based on what type of work is being carried out by the solicitor and also on the current stage of the proceedings.
This level of assistance involves a fixed fee being awarded to a solicitor for work carried out. Legal help allows a person to initially gain advice from a solicitor on a family law matter. This level would cover an initial meeting or a telephone call. This level does not cover the issue of court proceedings. This is the lowest level of assistance which can be administered.
This level of assistance approves the use of mediation to be used as an attempt to settle a family dispute. There will always be an ‘assessment meeting’ carried out before the mediation process can take place.
For more information on:
- Family Help (lower)
- Family Help (higher)
- Legal Representation
- Statutory charge
- Emergency Funding