In the Wake of Legal Aid Cuts – Where to Seek Free Legal Advice When Considering a Divorce
Following the notorious changes to the age old Legal Aid legislation that came into effect on the 1st April this year a vast majority of the 120,000 couples in England and Wales who will be seeking a divorce over the next 12 months are going to have to seriously consider their options. It’s no secret, divorce is a costly affair, and now, in the vast majority of cases, the bill has to be covered personally. It is, then, starting to look like parting ways is going to cost you more than you would think; no matter how amicable the split.
With this in mind, most couples will be looking to save every penny possible, and here is where we can help. This article will point you in the right direction of how to curve the cost and save some money; showing you where that ever illusive free legal advice is waiting for those who need it.
Online Help and Advice:
The first place all divorcing couples should turn is of course the internet, and amidst the nonsense one can find online there are quite a few helpful sources. In fact, on this very website you can find a completely free advice service. Simply search a query and find the automated results of all previous circumstances which relate to the search; find the one which most fits to your situation and read through the advice. If your problem has not been asked before, simply submit a question to have it answered by a solicitor.
The Citizens Advice Bureau also offers a comprehensive listing of all things divorce related. Visit their website to take advantage of the numerous guides and fact-sheets online, which may go a long way to help clear up some first hurdle woes you may be experiencing – especially considering certain consequences when property/children are concerned.
A word of warning must also be mentioned when seeking legal advice online. The internet is full of useful sources, but can also be a treasure trove of ill-informed guidance and unqualified advice. Therefore, be sure to stick to credible sources (such as the two named above) when seeking free legal advice and avoid things such as free-to-post forums and anywhere not specifically regulated by some legal authority.
Increasingly, many law firms also now offer free consultation services to those seeking to find out more about proceeding with a divorce. One such firm is our friends at Coles Solicitors in York, who offer this service for anyone who visits one of their numerous branches in the North East of England.
For a more general round up of free legal advice workshops/consultancies in your neighbourhoods, then the LawWorks Clinics Network should be one of the first places you visit. Highlighting a list of all participating institution/law firms; you can search for your area and visit one of the many offices your query will inevitably return. Sadly, though, this programme is slow to gain substantial growth in any areas outside of England (more specifically, London) and if you live in mid-Wales, for example, your closest office may unfortunately lie in Cardiff, Swansea, or Birmingham. If we are to look at Scotland too, the situation seems even bleaker as the network is yet to extend its reach more north than the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. As of yet, the LawWorks Clinics Network has absolutely zero presence in Northern Ireland.
Pro Bono Cases:
Pro Bono cases are a somewhat American invention and have been leaking into the British legal system slowly over the last years. For those not familiar: in a nutshell, Pro Bono legal cases are the same as any other paid-for legal proceeding only all of the lawyer’s fees are wavered and the work is delivered on a voluntary basis. This sort of practice, more commonly found in employment, property or discriminatory cases is quite freely open to couples looking for a divorce, especially in cases where domestic violence risks are concerned. This service is also highly means tested and is only offered to those who can strictly not afford it themselves. Therefore, the vast majority of us are excluded from this opportunity, but if you meet the (individually assessed) criteria, we urge you to investigate more thoroughly. Visit the Bar Pro Bono Unit to see if you apply, and if so allow them to match you with a solicitor.
Fundamentally, in the wake of legal aid cuts, it is of high importance to seek legal advice before undertaking any high-cost divorce proceedings. If you’re intending on the divorce being fast, hassle free and you have nothing in the way of joint property ownership/children, then you could even consider a DIY divorce pack to keep the costs even lower. No legal proceedings should be followed before appropriate legal counsel has guided you and you are fully aware of the legal journey that may wait. Therefore, follow the advice outlined above and you should be able to make an informed decision on what your next step should be in no time, and with a little more cash in your pocket.
This guest post is contributed by David Williamson. He is an expert legal writer and guest blogger. He likes to write on different legal topics to contribute on different legal blogs online. He can be found on Twitter and Google +.