As the recent changes in the Legal Aid system start to bite, concerns are being raised that hard pressed separating couples may let their financial and custody issues go unresolved.
A recent survey of Resolution’s members revealed most Legal Aid practitioners believed that less than a quarter of their cases would continue to be eligible after April 2013.
Vanessa Fox, Head of Family Law at hlw Keeble Hawson says that now, more than ever, is the time when dispute resolution and mediation services can give couples hope that there are ways to avoid a bitter, lengthy and costly divorce.
Vanessa said, “There is the danger that if couples separate, leaving important issues unresolved, some children might miss out on seeing one parent or may be exposed to risk or situations of hardship that could have been managed differently.”
Those facing separation and divorce can find out about their options by speaking to a Resolution member, regardless of whether they qualify for Legal Aid. Many Resolution members offer a free or fixed-price initial meeting. A new guide, Separating Together is also a helpful and informative resource.
“Separation and divorce is always a painful time but it does not need to turn into a bitter fight through the courts, taking years to settle and costing huge amounts of money. There are affordable and effective ways for couples to reach an agreement, ensuring any children’s best interests are put first” added Vanessa.
Children offer suffer because of the raised temperature between parents but family lawyers bring a helpful objectivity to the situation, encouraging parents to take a step back and consider the child’s point of view and what they want.
New legislation implemented on April 1 states that legal aid for divorce cases may only be available in cases involving serious domestic violence.