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Legal aid funding withdrawn from family cases from April 2013

The Government has announced that from 1st April 2013 it will withdraw public funding from the majority of family law cases.

David Winnett, Family Lawyer and Mediator at Hopkins Solicitors summarises what this might mean for all those people who need family law advice from 1st April.

David says “Whilst funding will still be available where domestic violence is involved, in care proceedings, and for mediation, there won’t be any legal aid for things such as funding your lawyer to argue about your children, claiming your share of the family property, or handling your divorce papers. So, if couples want to resolve their dispute through the Courts, they will need to fund their own legal action, or do it themselves.”

He adds “Whilst banks and private insurers may yet come up with products to cover the cost of proceedings, for example, loans to be repaid over time after the case, the whole culture of resolving a family dispute is set to change. The Government wants people to settle family cases rather than automatically fighting about them in Court.”

David finishes by saying “Mediation and Collaborative law can save time and money compared to fighting it out in Court. These processes are also much less distressing for the parties involved, which of course also includes any children. Collaborative law sees the couple each advised by their own lawyer next to them. In Mediation, a single Mediator is present. The common factor in both is a Court battle is avoided and both parties, who have different interests, can jointly decide their own outcome, leading to the best option in difficult circumstances for all those involved.”

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