Domestic Abuse and Legal Aid, Misconceptions.

Domestic Abuse and Legal Aid, Misconceptions.


There has been recent publicity about the cost of applying for Domestic Abuse legal aid. However, it is often free or only small contributions are needed.

Here are some false beliefs and the real situation.

  1. Domestic Abuse is only violence related. No

It can cover:

  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Coercive control,
  • Harassment and stalking

2. Only women can apply for injunctions. No

If the person applying comes under the Family Law Act 1996 categories and there is sufficient evidence of domestic abuse an application can be made regardless of gender.

The applicants can include spouses, civil partners, cohabitants, engaged parties, parents of a child or where they have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration.

3. Legal Aid is no longer available or there must be evidence such as a GP letter. No

  1. All cases have to be referred to the National Centre for Domestic Violence Helpline. No.

Any Solicitor who has a Family Legal Aid Contract can act.  You can find a legal aid advisor here: https://find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk/

 

  1. Legal Aid can cost thousand of pounds. No.

Normally in legally aided cases there is an upper limit, a person will only qualify if the income is below £733 after deductions of a certain amount for children and housing costs or their capital is below £8,000.00.  These limits do not apply in domestic abuse cases.

However, the applicant would have to pay a contribution depending on income and assets.  If on income this would  be payable monthly and last for as long as the case lasted, which could only be two months.  If from capital, the capital sum may seem high but the maximum amount that can be claimed would be the total costs of the case, so this is likely to be less, so any capital sum would be refunded.

Also, if the capital asset is being claimed by the ex-partner or there is a dispute, such as a family home, the capital asset can normally be ignored.

If an applicant receives means tested benefits such as income support or universal credit, then usually the legal aid is free.

Here are some examples of eligibility:

If an applicant had a gross income including benefits of £1,200 per month and net rent after housing benefit of £100 per month and two children legal aid is free.

If there was £4,000 savings a contribution of £1,000 may be required but that will be the maximum to pay even if the costs are more.

See: http://civil-eligibility-calculator.justice.gov.uk/

If you had to pay a higher capital contribution you would only pay the maximum costs incurred, usually on average around £1,500 and be refunded any surplus.

  1. The Police do not take action on “Domestics” No

Although historically the Police seemed reluctant to act they are more aware of the risks now and the first port of call in any incident. If criminal proceedings are commenced, then there is usually no need for an injunction application as there may be bail conditions protecting the complainant.

 

 

 

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