legal aid

Legal aid means testing removed for certain family law cases

Legal aid means testing has been removed for certain family cases as of 3rd August 2023, the Legal Aid Agency has announced.

Specifically, means testing will no longer be required for:

  • Under 18s applying for Legal Representation and Family Help (Higher), including applications for these services under Exceptional Case Funding; and
  • Parents or those with parental responsibility applying for legal representation for matters concerning the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment in respect of their child

In addition to the removal of means testing for the above applicants, contribution changes will apply to certificates in these categories issued before 3rd August. As a result, under 18s will no longer be liable to pay contributions for Legal Representation or Family Help (Higher) from 3rd August onwards.

Similarly, parents or those with parental responsibility holding a certificate in respect of the above matters will not be liable for further contributions.

Under 18s applying for controlled work (apart from Controlled Legal Representation) and family mediation will continue to undergo a means test.

However, a new “Light touch” assessment will be introduced, reducing the number of under 18s required to undergo the full means test. Under 18s without a regular income or capital of £2,500 or above, who are not aggregated with an adult, will benefit from this new approach.

The changes come as a result of the statutory instrument for the Phase 1 Means Test Review changes being laid 4th July.

The Legal Aid Agency said relevant civil forms, guidance, and digital systems have been amended to reflect the changes, and that new versions should be used by all providers from that date. Any previous versions of the forms will continue to be accepted up to 1 month after the changes take effect (3rd September 2023).

It was added that information on the remaining Phase 1 changes for legal help at inquests will be provided when those changes come into force on 4th September 2023.

A new application form will be published on to apply for legal help in an inquest without a determination of financial eligibility and amended guidance will be made available “in due course”, concluded the Legal Aid Agency.

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