Help with le­gal fees when you sep­a­rate

The Wokingham Paper - - SOCIETY -

SEP­A­RAT­ING can be com­pli­cated, so you might need le­gal help. For ex­am­ple, if you and your ex-part­ner can’t agree on who will stay in the fam­ily home, or where your chil­dren will live.

You might be able to get help with le­gal costs de­pend­ing on your in­come, if you have any sav­ings and in­vest­ments and how se­ri­ous your case is.

IF YOUR PART­NER MAKES YOU FEEL ANX­IOUS OR THREAT­ENED, YOU SHOULD GET HELP.

You can call Refuge or Women’s Aid on 0808 2000 247 at any time.

Men’s Ad­vice Line is a char­ity that helps men suf­fer­ing do­mes­tic abuse. You can call their helpline on 0808 801 0327 be­tween 9am to 5pm, Mon­day to Fri­day.

If you’re un­sure about what to do next, con­tact your near­est Cit­i­zens Ad­vice.

You might be able to get some or all of your le­gal costs paid by the Gov­ern­ment. This is known as ‘le­gal aid’ and you should get it if:

You’re us­ing it to pay for me­di­a­tion

Have ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic abuse in the last five years You’re at risk of home­less­ness – for ex­am­ple, if your ex­part­ner is try­ing to throw you out of your home

To get le­gal aid, your le­gal ad­viser will need a le­gal aid con­tract. You can find a so­lic­i­tor or me­di­a­tor with a le­gal aid con­tract on GOV.UK.

Your le­gal ad­viser will check if you can get le­gal aid and ap­ply for you.

You’ll need to pay some le­gal aid back if you keep or gain any money or prop­erty at the end of your court case.

If you have any ques­tions, speak to your le­gal ad­viser. You can also get help from your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice.

If you need to go to court quickly to keep you or your chil­dren safe, you can ask your so­lic­i­tor to ap­ply for ‘emer­gency le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion’. It pays your so­lic­i­tor and court fees if you need a fast de­ci­sion on money, prop­erty or chil­dren.

If you get this, you should also ask your so­lic­i­tor to ap­ply for le­gal aid for any fu­ture costs or hear­ings.

If you can’t, you might be able to get other help to pay for le­gal ad­vice or court rep­re­sen­ta­tion: Free or low cost ad­vice from a so­lic­i­tor in a law cen­tre

Up to half an hour free from a so­lic­i­tor

Free ad­vice from a so­lic­i­tor, although this is rare for sep­a­ra­tion cases

Free ad­vice from a vol­un­teer bar­ris­ter - find out more on the Bar Pro Bono Unit web­site

Some solic­i­tors of­fer more than 30 min­utes of free ad­vice, although this is rare for sep­a­ra­tion cases. Ask your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice if they know of lo­cal solic­i­tors who do this.

You should re­search dif­fer­ent solic­i­tors be­fore de­cid­ing which one. Ask them how much they charge and how long they think the process will take.

Don’t au­to­mat­i­cally go for the cheapest or the clos­est. It’s im­por­tant you feel you’ll have a good re­la­tion­ship with them.

If your sep­a­ra­tion is com­pli­cated a so­lic­i­tor might pass your case onto a bar­ris­ter. You can go di­rectly to a bar­ris­ter through the pub­lic ac­cess scheme.

If you need to go to court, you’ll need to be re­ferred to a bar­ris­ter by:

Your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice A law cen­tre

A le­gal ad­vice cen­tre

To get help from a vol­un­teer bar­ris­ter you need to show you:

Can’t af­ford a bar­ris­ter – they nor­mally cost at least

£150 an hour

Can’t get le­gal aid

You’ll need to ap­ply at least three weeks be­fore your next court date.

It’s pos­si­ble to rep­re­sent your­self in court. It’s best to get le­gal ad­vice, so speak to your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice to see what your costs might be and your op­tions for pay­ing them. If you want to rep­re­sent your­self, you can get ad­vice from Ad­vi­cenow.

Check if you can get help with your court fees on GOV.UK. To ap­ply, fill in the form on­line then send to the court deal­ing with your case. You can also use it to get a re­fund for court fees paid in the last three months.

You don’t need to fill in any of your part­ner’s de­tails if you’re sep­a­rat­ing from them – tick the box say­ing you’re sin­gle.

You can get help, in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice from your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice or visit www. cit­i­zen­sad­vice­wok­ing­ham. org.uk or con­tact Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Wok­ing­ham at

Se­cond Floor, Water­ford House, Erf­s­tadt Court, Wok­ing­ham RG40 2YF. Tel: 0300 330 1189. email: pub­[email protected] cit­i­zen­sad­vice­wok­ing­ham. org.uk

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