From 1 March 2023 onwards, changes will start to be implemented to family rules for legal aid.
This means free legal aid is being extended for both parents and those with parental responsibilities.
The changes outline “The scope of means free legal aid is being extended for both parents and those with parental responsibilities. The extension applies when opposing applications for placement and adoption orders in public family law proceedings involving local authorities.”
Adoption Proceedings – Means and merits based test:
In Care Proceedings, Parents of a child are represented regardless of the means of their case.
Adoption Applications usually come later, after Care and Placement Orders have been made.
If potential adoptive parents are found, parents should receive a notice of an application for an Adoption Order from the Local Authority.
Before 1 March, if parents wanted to challenge applications for an Adoption Order after Care and Placement proceedings have concluded, they would have to be assessed not only on the merits of their case but also their means.
However, because of recent changes, parents/those with Parental Responsibility, will now only be assessed on the merits of their case.
This will undoubtedly be a relief to many parents who want to challenge an Adoption application made in relation to their child/children.
Parents who have worked hard since Care and Placement Orders were made, may be able to demonstrate sufficient change.
Challenging an Adoption application can be a daunting and difficult task, especially for parents with vulnerabilities and it is important to have access to legal help.
If parents can demonstrate sufficient change, they will be assessed on merits only and no longer have the added worry of their financial circumstances preventing them from securing legal help.
Domestic Abuse: evidence to support Legal Aid application
An additional change made on 1 March 2023, makes it more accessible for victims of domestic abuse to access Legal Aid.
Assessments conducted by health professionals over the telephone or via video conference are now acceptable evidence to support a victim’s Legal Aid application.
To find out if you are eligible please contact us. We have a team of experienced family and children law specialist lawyers who would be more than happy to assist.
To read more about the changes to Legal Aid you can go to the following page: