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can i get legal aid?

  • smoker
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09 Mar 08 #16295 by smoker
Topic started by smoker
my ex left me 27/12/07,since then he has put £300 in my bank each month ,there was no agreement or anything,guilt money i think,i want to go for legal aid,will this money be counted as income?(he could change his mind at any time).i am on i.b. £168 every two weeks,i just want to get on with a divorce but there is no way i can do it without legal aid,does anyone know?thanks

  • divorceVeteran
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10 Mar 08 #16314 by divorceVeteran
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Have you checked your elibility on: www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/en/legalaid/calculator.jsp (note it is at the bottom to initiate the calculator.)

In my personal experience, I would reccommend most definitely that you need to declare the 300 pounds/month whether there is an formal agreement or not by your spouse.

On the calculator it asks for 'maintenance' and this is where the 300/mo. would go. There are other factors taken into consideration that is taken into account in establishing eligibility for legal aid(assets, capital, savings,house ownership, mortgage, rent, etc)and then the 'merits' of the case. If it appears that you have financial eligibility, going to a solicitor who practices legal aid I think should be your next stop. Sooner you do this the better.

Once you are asked to complete a application for legal aid, you may be asked to supply further information (I did-6 months of bank statements!) and still there was a wait of 2 more months before the certificate is granted. There is emergency legal aid that I was eligible for, but my solicitor failed to apply for that. [Private fees twice what LA pays?]

I would recommend that you already obtain all your bank statements and submit them WITH the application. One additional point I found in reviewing my original application, when you declare on application to LSC about money make sure it is clear that this may be subject to dispute.
It may be too that a former partner who is financially controlling with a wise solicitor may have been advised to pay just enough money so that you aren't eligible for other State benefits such as income support which may mean an automatic 'passporting' into obtaining legal aid. Hope this helps!

  • Elizabeth
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10 Mar 08 #16316 by Elizabeth
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Hello Smoker,

The last reply to your question by Divorce Veteran is spot on and I would recommend you print it off and digest!

In my experience my ex did the same - he paid 200 pounds just while he received legal aid which tipped my eligibility just over the edge and I had to declare this payment by him which meant I paid a contribution of 60 pounds per month until the residency case for the children came to a close and I was only on 14,000 a year! He was on 24,000! How the heck he got legal aid I don't know - but I will tell you this - I thought he would have to pay it back out of his divorce settlement and I understood legal aid is a loan - I was wrong. OK it's 2 years later and he has a hefty settlement from the equity on the house. Having enquired with the Public Funding Board I was informed that the case is closed and therefore no investigation can be done - even if he was on more money than me and still got legal aid!?

Any question of entitlement should be posed at the time that the case is "live" and this means ongoing - so if you have any doubt about your ex's eligibility - query it right now - don't leave it. Declare the 300 - it's a pain but ALWAYS be honest - that way you will sleep better and know you are doing the right thing!

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10 Mar 08 #16317 by smoker
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thanks for your advice,what a nightmare this is,it hits you everywhere,i feel like running off myself!im at solicitors tomorrow so see what happens then,thanks again

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10 Mar 08 #16321 by Elizabeth
Reply from Elizabeth
Hello Smoker,

Be careful on how much you lean on your solicitor - look as much as you can up on the internet and be guided by the Matromonial Divorce Act 1973 - you will not go wrong with this guidance - avoid court - your solicitor is not a counsellor - get any questions you have written down and be focused - WRITE DOWN replies to any questions next to your question - don't want to be primary school teacher but it's so easy to think you will remember things and they go out of your head as quick as they went in!!! (Do with me anyway!).

Remember - not much to fight over? Don't bother!

HORLICKS!

  • divorceVeteran
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10 Mar 08 #16323 by divorceVeteran
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Your most welcome! It is a nightmare, no kidding about that and when your emotionally, physically, and financially vulnerable...all the more so! The Access to Justice Act 1999 which established the Legal Services Commission was to enable such people like you and me,the most vulnerable citizens of our society; but sadly the administration of that now falls very short of the mark.

If it wasn't enough to be well versed in what happens during a Divorce in the UK, knowing your first appointment from your final hearing for instance, children's residency issues; one will need to understand what civil rights you have under the legal aid administration under the Access to Justice Act, funding regularions, etc. A good legal aid solicitor will do this, protecting you, observing his obligations to the law, and being pro-active to your entitlements under law in obtaining Legal Aid.

May I just forewarn you as well, know that Legal Aid is a minefield too, and can be an added stress that I am sorry to say in my experience was a careless affair as other people have said on this site, you may feel you're a second class citizen or at the bottom of the pile when it comes to your instruction on legal aid, when compared with a privately-funded solicitor.

This is not meant to say that legal aided solicitors are incompentent and untruthful as my legally aided, quality assured solicitor was in 2001. However, the financial constraints placed on them by new contracts has contributed to the fact that solicitors are being forced out causing legal aid deserts in England. Further, there has been a steady erosion of even the availability of legal aid solicitors, and tighter financial eligibility for client's applying. I hope you are in an area where you might shop around for someone you feel to have your best interests to heart. "Knowledge is Power"

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