I have tried to research/Google for the answer but I'm getting so confused, I wondered if anyone could help.
I have been divorced for nearly 5 years. Ex-h has been very hit and miss with contact with the children - seeing them maybe 5 times a year. He also has mental health issues and has been in trouble with the police. In July this year I refused to allow him to see the children any longer as the police had come round to my house again after an 'incident'. I said I wanted to know what his diagnosis was and why the police keep getting called out. Ex refused to give me the details and said he was taking me to court for access. I sought legal advice but there was no need to apply for Legal Aid at that time as it hadn't got as far as court.
Someone has told me that Legal Aid will not be offered from April 2013 for child access/custody cases. Is this correct?
BTW with mental health it's more useful to focus on behaviour than a diagnosis which may be unreliable because there can be some considerable overlap of symptoms. That means there can be several conditions diagnosed and a diagnoses may change over time. See;
Thank you for your answer and I have read the link. I'm clearer now.
I see what you mean about focusing on behaviour rather than diagnosis. However, a lot of his behaviour is now kept secret from me by his family or my ex and the police wouldn't tell me why they felt they had to come round to my house when he was reported missing. They just said they wanted to check if he was in the vicinity and wouldn't comment about whether he had made threats to harm me or the children (he has done this in the past). I was also told I would not be informed if he was found. Fair enough, I'm not his wife anymore.
I guess I will wait and see if he does go down the court route. I suppose I can't apply for Legal Aid before April unless he does invoke court action before that date? At the moment, apart from a Solicitors letter in early October, I have heard nothing since.
There is an exception for cases where there's been domestic violence, I don't know if that applies to you. If you haven't already, you could go to a solicitor and be advised about his October letter under the legal help scheme ie the preliminary stage of legal aid.
Thanks Ballerina. There was domestic violence but I never logged it with the police or sought hospital treatment. It would be my word against his. I divorced him on the grounds of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. I kept the sexual abuse and violence secret. Foolish, I know.
I will make an appointment to see my Solicitor, take the October letter and ask about legal aid.
Foolish isn't the word I'd use, sometimes it's just easier not to get into things. I'm not sure whether they actually need any corroberating evidence of the DV, or if the client's word alone will do. It's one of the many things that hasn't been properly ironed out with regards to the legal aid reforms. Last I heard, there was no mention of needing anything other than the client's word. But there's nothing to stop you reporting the sexual and physical abuse now if you want to. Anyway, I think you're right to see a solicitor now. If they have a file with your instructions on and your account of DV is included, I would think that puts you in a strong position to get legal aid later, if you should need it. You might not though, if he's done nothing about it in four months.
Do you need help finding a local legal aid lawyer or do you have someone in mind?
Sounds like a plan. I'd encourage you to mention the physical and sexual abuse too, write it in a letter to her if you can't face talking about it. It's just that if it does become difficult to get legal aid even when there's been DV, a prior record of it, of any kind, will be better than none. Perhaps mention it to a GP as well.