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Divorce: eligibility for legal aid

(7 Posts)
MidnightsChild Tue 14-Jun-11 19:54:15

Fairly new to MN, lurk a fair bit and post occasionally. My male best friend has asked me for advice on divorce and legal aid. Having never married myself, I have no personal experience to draw on but thought "I know people who will", hence this post.

His new girlfriend wishes to divorce her husband. The husband is British, she is Thai, but has permanent residency here. She is living on benefits (including housing) and has no obvious source of income now that she's left her husband. She has applied for legal aid in order to sue her husband for divorce, but has been told she isn't eligible. As it is unclear to my friend why this is, he has sought my advice. It is possible that the lack of clarity is due to language difficulties (she is fine in normal conversation but legality might be a bridge too far), the other (more worrying possibility) is that she may be being deliberately evasive.

Does anyone have any experience/expertise on what the criteria for legal aid is in these circumstances?

Collaborate Tue 14-Jun-11 20:28:17

If she's on income support or income-based JSA she's pass otter to LA. if she's not on any of those it depends on her income and outgoings. She'll have to produce recent (ie last months) evidence of all sources if income, otherwise she won't get past the first minute of the appointment with the solicitor. Maybe this was the problem. Then again, maybe she doesn't really want to get divorced right now and told her BF this as an excuse.

MidnightsChild Thu 16-Jun-11 10:12:35

Thanks very much for the information which I have passed on.

I'm not convinced it isn't just an excuse, but at least my friend has access to some hard information now that he can use to make a realistic assessment of the situation ... or decide to stick his head in the sand, which he's done a lot of in this relationship, sadly. Love ... eh!

Thanks again smile

Collaborate Thu 16-Jun-11 10:31:03

Just noticed iPhone spellcheck curse. Meant to read passported.

worldgonecrazy Thu 16-Jun-11 10:40:52

If you phone up the local Family Courts they will be happy to send out a pack detailing what she needs to do to apply for a divorce. They will also send out all the information about who can apply for legal aid and how to do it. It is actually very cheap to do your own divorce and the courts encourage it where possible because it is much less stressful than getting lawyers involved. I may be a little cynical but lawyers make more money if they can get the parties fighting.

Tell your friend to give the Family court a call. I was very surprised by how helpful they are.

Collaborate Thu 16-Jun-11 11:31:47

Yes it's a great money making wheeze. £162 for a stand alone divorce. That works out at £30-40 per hour. Of course it all goes into my back pocket. My secretary and admin staff work for free - infact my office costs nothing at all to run!

The new standard fees for financial and children disputes are even worse.

Legal Aid family lawyers are going to be hard to find before long.

MidnightsChild Thu 16-Jun-11 12:27:19

Thank you worldgonecrazy, I've passed that information on to my friend also.

Frankly, I think his girlfriend needs the protection of legal expertise. Her language skills aren't good enough, her husband has a history of controlling behaviour and whilst I've no idea if she was actually a thai bride, he certainly treats her as if she's his possession. I also don't think she's ever had to deal with anything formal, legal, financial ... so relies heavily on my friend.

Blimey, that's cheap Collaborate, almost as cheap as the conveyancing
lawyer I always use. I can never see how he gets such an amazing job done at the price.

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