Changes to Family Legal Aid
This month we have seen the long-expected changes to Legal Aid for family law in Jersey. The new changes have reduced the types of cases that will now be legally aided. At Benest & Syvret we still have Legal Aid clients however if you are not eligible for Legal Aid, we are happy to have a conversation with you about the service we can provide you on a cost-effective basis. We are fully aware of the stress that is already upon clients who require our assistance in this area of law and so we ensure that we provide considered, realistic costs estimates so that people know where they are with our bills.
Are you eligible for Legal Aid for family matters?
In order to be eligible for Legal Aid for family law you must be able to satisfy three eligibility tests;
- You must be ordinarily resident in Jersey – You may be required to provide evidence of this.
- You must have been resident for a period of not less than 12 months immediately prior to the application for Legal Aid
- You must be registered with Social Security
- Area of Law – Family Legal Aid is limited to;
- Ancillary (financial) relief claims where there are dependent children
- Child maintenance claims (however not those instigated by Social Security)
- Divorce/Judicial Separation/ Civil Partnership and Nullity proceedings where there are dependent children.
- Residence and contact disputes
- Injunctions within the family law context
- Claims by a child under the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973
- You need to evidence that you are financially eligible for Legal Aid.
- If your personal capital is below £50,000 and your personal income is below £33,000 of if you are only in receipt of Income Support you may qualify for Legal Aid.
- If either your capital or income exceeds the thresholds above, you will not qualify for Legal Aid.
There does not appear to be the same discretion when it comes to Legal Aid as before and it is clear that from now on Legal Aid will not be available for the following matters;
- Ancillary (financial) relief claims where there are no children
- Divorce/judicial separation/civil partnership dissolution/nullity proceedings where there are no children
- Child maintenance claims instigated by Social Security
- Enforcement of maintenance orders/arrears of maintenance
- Claims under the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973 (except where the claim is by a child)
- Pre or post nuptial agreements
- Separation Agreements where there are no children.
If you are involved in pre-proceedings or care proceedings for your child, we can assist you. Both Advocate Benest and Advocate Robinson are on the Children’s Panel meaning they are able to represent parents and children in public law matters. We have a wealth of experience within our team in respect of children matters. There is no contribution towards costs nor is there any eligibility requirements. Everyone involved in these proceedings is entitled to free legal advice in this regard however the appointment under the Children’s Panel is on a rota basis.
If you are eligible for Legal Aid, depending on your gross income level you will be expected to pay us a monthly contribution to Benest & Syvret which has been set by Legal Aid;
Gross Income Monthly Payment
Up to £20,000 NIL
£24,001- £28,000 £50
£28,001- £33,000 £100
If you think you may be eligible for Legal Aid, please apply here Family | Legal Aid Jersey
If you are not eligible but would like to know more about the services we can provide a cost estimate for the work that you need us to do, please contact us for an initial chat on 875875 and either Advocate Nina Benest or Clare Woodhouse will be happy to assist you.