Today marks day fourteen of 2021’s 16 days of action against Domestic Abuse. Anybody can be a victim; anybody can access help. The team at Ringrose Law are available to guide you through the process so please contact us.
You may be entitled to Legal Aid if you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse and cannot afford to pay legal costs.
In order to apply for a Non-Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order you will be required to pass two assessments. These are called the means assessment and merits assessment.
The means assessment
The means assessment is to determine whether you are financially eligible for Legal Aid. You will need to provide evidence of your income (such as wage slips together with any evidence of benefits you are in receipt of) and any capital (such as savings, properties and shares).
The Legal Aid Agency will deduct certain allowances for rent, if you work, have children or any dependents. The remaining figure will then be known as your ‘Disposable income’.
An applicant who is in receipt directly or indirectly of qualifying benefits automatically satisfies the disposable income test however you must still satisfy the disposable capital test. Qualifying benefits are currently:-
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-based employed and support allowance
- State pension guarantee credit
- Universal credit
You will be eligible for Legal Aid where your monthly disposable income does not exceed £733.00 and your disposable capital does not exceed £8,000.00.
Should your income and capital be below the amount specified by the Legal Aid Agency then you will pass this part of the assessment.
When assessing your means the Legal Aid Agency will take into consideration both your finances and also those of your partner (if applicable) if they live with you unless your case is against this person.
It may be that you may pass part of the means assessment but that the Legal Aid Agency will require you to pay a contribution towards the funding. We will be able to advise you further if this is applicable to you.
The merits assessment
The merits assessment will take a closer look into your application and consider the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The Legal Aid Agency will need to consider the following before making a decision as to whether your case has merit:-
- The chances of success of your case;
- When the most recent incident was;
- Whether there has been any police involvement;
- Whether the police have taken any further action for example bail conditions;
- Whether it is appropriate to submit an application to court or whether it would be suitable to prepare a warning letter; and
- Whether the likely legal costs of your case are proportionate.
We will provide a statement to the Legal Aid Agency setting out your case so that they are able to clearly see the reasons for the application.
In order for us to be able to apply to the Legal Aid Agency, we will need to obtain certain documentation from you. For example:-
- Letter from Benefits Agency or Job Centre confirming the type of passported benefit you are in receipt of. We must also have your National Insurance Number or a screenshot or print out of your Universal Credit Entitlement on the portal.
- If you are in receipt of a non-passported benefit we will need to see sight of a letter from the Benefits Agency dated within the last month confirming date first received and amount received.
- If you are employed we will need to see:-
- 3 months wage slips for the preceding 3 months if monthly paid or 6 weeks if weekly paid.
- Job title and the date you started to work for that employer
- Details of any benefits in kind
- The most recent tax credit award letter (if applicable)
- Date first received child benefit and the amount received
- Amount of any child maintenance received either formal or informal.
- Bank statements for all accounts held covering a 3 months period. If you have ISA’s, National Savings, Premium Bonds and Saving Accounts we will need to see 3 months bank statements for these accounts also.
- If you own a car, we will need you to provide details such as date of purchase, purchase price, current value, make and model and registration plate. Should the car be loaned on Finance we will require sight of the Finance Agreement also.
- If you rent the property you live in we will need to see sight of your Tenancy Agreement.
- Should you own your own property, we will need the following details:-
- Details of any joint owners including their full name and address
- The address of the property(ies)
- Whether the property is detached, semi etc and number of bedrooms.
- Your interest in the property(ies)
- A current valuation
- A mortgage redemption statement dated within the last month.
- If you have received a lump sum exceeding £400.00 for any reason such as accident claim, compensation, lottery win etc. we will require written confirmation of this and full details of the amount received.
- In all cases we will need details of any financial support given e.g. by parents, friends or ex-partners. This will include a letter confirming the extent of the support from the person concerned.
In addition to the above, you must also supply proof that you have been the victim of domestic abuse by the other party in the proceedings or that your children have been assessed as at risk by children’s services with the other party in the proceedings being the risk or perpetrator. There are pro forma letters which your GP, support organisation or children’s services can complete and they should hold copies of these to assist you.
Once we have received the above information from you we will then be able to review the documentation with a view to attending you shortly thereafter to go through your Legal Aid Application. Once we have applied to the Legal Aid Agency for funding we will then be in a position to progress with your application.
Should you have any queries over your eligibility for Legal Aid please do not hesitate to contact the Team to discuss this further.