Civil news: means free legal aid features in family rules changes
Means free legal aid is being extended for both parents and those with parental responsibilities.
Changes to family legal aid start to take effect on 1 March 2023 with an extension of means free legal aid in some public family law cases.
A new option for domestic abuse assessments is also being made available.
Public family law changes
The scope of means free legal aid is being extended for both parents and those with parental responsibilities. The extension applies when opposing applications for placement and adoption orders in public family law proceedings involving local authorities.
This rules change brings the merits test in line with cases covered by the Special Children Act 1989.
Providing evidence of domestic abuse
Applicants now have the option of having domestic abuse assessments carried out by health professionals over the telephone or by video conference.
This is a new alternative to an examination in person when a report or letter is needed as supporting evidence of domestic abuse. It takes effect from 1 March 2023.
Other changes in pipeline
New rules are being introduced affecting the scope of family legal aid in relation to special guardianship orders (SGOs) for family private law proceedings. This is due to take effect from 1 May 2023. We will issue further communications about this nearer the time.