Domestic Abuse Victims Should Not Be Denied Legal Aid Because Of Capital 'Trapped' In The Family Home

Publication Date13 March 2021
SubjectFamily and Matrimonial, Family Law
Law FirmFamily Law Group
AuthorEmilie Haine

Emilie Haine, a solicitor at Family Law Group, Cambridge, explores the impact of the High Court's recent decision that it was unfair to deny a mother Legal Aid due to the value of the house she owns with her ex-partner. This case has provided important clarification for domestic abuse victims seeking legal assistance.

Although Legal Aid has been severely restricted in recent years, it is still available in family law matters for victims of domestic abuse. However, applicants must first pass a financial means test involving an assessment of income and capital; including any property that a person owns or has an interest in.

The mother in this case had just '28 in her bank account and was on universal credit. However, because she co-owned a house with an ex-partner valued at '650,000, she was assessed as ineligible. At Family Law Group we hear from many victims in similar positions, who have little or no income except benefits and may even be relying on food banks, but are denied Legal Aid because of the market value of the family home they share with their abuser.

In some cases, this is a...

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