Changes in Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence
Category: Domestic Violence
Until recently, victims of domestic abuse have had to literally jump through hoops in order to seek access to Legal Aid. This included having to prove that the abuse took place within the last 5 years.
This naturally had the effect of significantly reducing the number of cases taken to court, and even resulted in some victims being put through a harrowing experience of having to face their abuser in court if they decided to press ahead and represent themselves. The fear of having to go through this experience by themselves in a court has helped dissuade many people from applying for protective orders for themselves or their children.
The heavily criticised restrictions over access to Legal Aid were adopted in 2012, but groups campaigning against domestic abuse have been successful in having the law changed, and there is now no requirement to provide evidence the abuse took place in the last 5 years. Further changes will see statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers being accepted as evidence of past abuse, as well as those from social services, law enforcement agencies and medical professionals.
Confirming the new guidelines for the Legal Aid Agency, the justice minister, Dominic Raab, said: “We have listened to victims’ groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases. These changes make sure that vulnerable women and children get legal support so their voice is properly heard in court.”
If you need any assistance or advice about domestic violence or other family law matter, please contact us now on 01752 827026 or email [email protected]