Can you get legal aid?

On 1 April 2013, eligibility for legal aid in family law cases changed.

Read on to find out more about the changes and how a Resolution member can help you.

Note: Resolution is aware that there is some misinformation circulating online regarding the legal aid changes introduced in April 2013, with many sites stating the legal aid is no longer available. This is not the case. There are significant changes but legal aid for divorce and separation is still available in some cases. Find out more below.

On this page

Can you access legal aid?

Depending on your ability to pay, you may be able to access legal aid to get help to resolve your family dispute with mediation. Legal aid is also available for cases involving domestic abuse and child abduction cases.

Check to see if you qualify for legal aid with the Ministry of Justice calculator. Read the latest guidance from the Ministry of Justice

Legal aid for mediation

Mediation is a constructive approach to resolving family disputes that does not involve court. The process involves both you and your partner meeting with a mediator – an independent, neutral third party – who can help you both talk things through and reach agreement.

  • You may be able to access legal aid for mediation. This will depend on your ability to pay (your means) and whether mediation is assessed as being right for you.
  • If you are eligible for publicly funded mediation and assessed as suitable for mediation, you are also entitled to a limited amount of independent legal advice funded through legal aid.

> Find a Resolution trained lawyer mediator

> Read more about mediation

Legal aid in cases of domestic violence and abuse

Legal aid may be available where domestic violence or abuse are present. Domestic violence has been defined by the government as “any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between individuals who are associated with each other”.

  • If there is a history of, or risk of, domestic violence or abuse, legal aid may be available to help you seek protection and/or to help you deal with divorce and any children and finance issues.
  • If you need to take legal action to protect you and/or your children from abuse, you can get legal aid very quickly without documentary evidence.
  • To qualify for legal aid in relation to divorce and any children and finance issues, you will normally need to provide documentary evidence of abuse. The Ministry of Justice has provided guidance and template letters to assist applicants in obtaining the necessary evidence.
  • Eligibility depends on a number of factors and it is advisable to obtain proper advice to find out what you could be entitled to and what other help is available.

Obtaining evidence in support of an application for legal aid

The Ministry of Justice have produced guidance and template letters for applicants to help obtain appropriate evidence.

> Find a Resolution legal aid practitioner to discuss your options (see practitioners with the green legal aid tick next to their name)

Local authority child protection matters

  • In cases where the local authority has child protection concerns, parents, children and other interested adults will continue to be able to access legal aid.

> Find a Resolution legal aid practitioner to discuss your options (see practitioners with the green legal aid tick next to their name)

Legal aid in cases of child abduction

If there is a history of, or risk of, child abduction outside the UK, or a child has been unlawfully removed within the UK, legal aid may be available.

What if you're not eligible for legal aid?

Resolution members will still be able to advise you of the options available. Many practitioners and firms offer fixed-fee or pay-as-you-go packages to help you limit the cost of the process. Even if you decide not to use a lawyer, an initial conversation with a Resolution lawyer can help signpost you to suitable help, advice or alternative support services.

If a child in your family is at risk of being taken into care by the local authority

A local authority can take Care Proceedings if they are concerned that a child is not being properly looked after or is out of control. Legal aid may be available without a means test in some circumstances. You can find a Resolution member who specialises in this area of law.

Obtain evidence: Download template letters

To obtain evidence in support of an application for legal aid you can access guidance and template letters for cases involving domestic violence and abuse, and for cases where a child is at risk of abuse.

Experiencing difficulties? - Share your story

I'm experiencing difficulties accessing legal advice

If you are experiencing difficulties accessing the legal advice or support that you need in relation to your separation or divorce, consider contacting your local MP. All MPs have surgeries in their constituencies. To find out who your MP is, visit

Template letters to send to your MP

Resolution has prepared two template letters for constituents to send to their MP. The letters are designed to be customised by you for your particular circumstances. At minimum, the text in blue should be tailored by you before sending. To find out who your MP is, and where to send your letter, visit

I want to tell my story

Resolution knows that these legal aid changes will create difficulties and hardship for many. We think the cuts are unfair. If you experience difficulty accessing the legal help you need, please share your story with us. This can be in confidence. Please get in touch with us via