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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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Please help. Is there any legal aid available court

Customer Question

Please help. Is there any legal aid available for family court matters?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Hi, thanks for your question. I am a qualified family law solicitor.
Legal aid is available in certain circumstances, but it would depend on what kind of matter it was.
Please confirm what the case is about and I will be able to confirm if legal aid is available and what requirements there are.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
After a long court case my daughter gained residency of my granddaughter. The final summing up of the case was that the judge would have given joint residency but that the father of the child had been seen to be controlling and manipulative of my daughter . That if the judge gave joint residency he felt that the father would continue to control.
The father also in this final hearing said his phychiatrist thought he may have asburgers syndrome , but he couldnt afford to find out for sure. My daughter had a prohibited steps on the court order for two years ( which ran out 10th sept this year) The father has my granddaughter every other weekend. Things seem well, then suddenly out of no where the father does something. Last year he refused to return my granddaughter, saying we needed to collect her from a carpark in another town. The police managed to phone the father , who then returned her. At the end of August(bank holiday weekend) after the fathers week holiday contact, he again refused to return her making accusations about my daughters boyfriend. We had to wait two days for the courts to open, the judge ordered my granddaughter back. We had to take the papers the father, He refused to return my granddaughter. we had to wait till the friday and attend court, there my granddaughter was ordered back. My granddaughter was behaving strangley on return, she said a lot of things her father had told her... she was really messed up emotionally. How daddy said i belong to him, he gave me to mummy but now he wants me back. How she told daddy i will live with him because if i didnt he would get angry and smack me. And a lot more things too. As my daughter had to apply to the court to get my granddaughter back, she had to record all the previous goings on that had gone through court. There was another court case where the father could respond. Meanwhile social services did an investigation, and found everything at my daughters and with her boyfriend to be good. Cafcas were also involved, the contacted me twice instead of my daughter and each time i gave my daughters phone number , but the never called her. Cafcas spoke to my daughter and my granddaughetrs father seperatly for 15 mins before the courtcase and declared the father not to have a mental problem. My daughter represented herself. The judge stated he is giving my granddaughter a guardian, she can talk to and tell the guardian what she wants. This is very worring to me, as if the father did nit get residency because he is manipulative and controlling, what will he do to a child of 5? we really need help. My daughter has spoken briefly to the legal aid solicitor she had representing her before who said u really need legal help. She no longer does legal aid. I have visited all the solicitors in Chichester , only one looked like it may be able to help, but when they checked they had in the past represented the father, so could nit help us. one more thing, my daughter had be mentaly abused by the father, and was told if she could get a doctors letter stating this she may be able to get legal aid last year, but the letter the doctor sent did not cover what was needed. I do think we can maybe get a letter if we know what is needed. My daughter should have her part for the next court case sent to the court and the father by this Thursday, she and her two childeren have been very unwell for three weeks and now its panic, and we dont know what is required, what do we need to do. Is there any help? So sorry about my typing and spelling.. so stressed.
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the further information. The only thing I can think of that would qualify her under the domestic violence/child abuse criteria in order to apply for legal aid is if the social services investigation was undertaken within the last 24 months and confirms that the child is being, or at risk of being , a victim of child abuse and names the father as the perpetrator.
The prohibited steps order would have qualified her, but this has now expired. The previous judgment does not appear to confirm that the child suffered child abuse.
If she is able to obtain the above social services report which confirms it, or if social services are able to provide a letter which confirms what is outlined then she can have her finances assessed to make sure the she qualifies for legal aid.
You can check here: v for details of other solicitors to contact in your area, in case there are some that you have not approached.
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Apologies, this is the link for local solicitors:
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do i need to pay more here?
No the child was not abused physically. What she has said her father told her is being put down to "children say things"
The father comes accross as a gentleman, untill u cross or challenge him in any way,then he really changes, but when he is seen by these officials like cafcas they see him for a few minutes only and unless they spend longer with him would never see the other side of him. It is my daughter that has been under the doctor with stress from the fathers behaviour past and present. So now i am so lost. I cant help my daughter and may loose my granddaughter. we have no idea what the courts want or how to go about representing ourselves.
When this happened the prohibited steps was in place, but no one told us that could get us legal aid , they all said no.
The prohibited steps was first put in place as the father snatched my granddaughter in a shop when she was 10 months old. I feel really let down by the justice service as it seems like anyone can get away with anything, if you have money. I am at my wits end. Thank you for your replies, but it looks like we are alone.
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
What have social services said regarding the relationship between the child and father? Were they making a recommendation that the father has no contact with the child or were any concerns raised?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
As the father used to report my daughter to social services regularly and was told in court that he must not , i believe he was banned for two years. ( all this happened two weeks before the two years was up, including two weeks left on the prohibited steps order)
When the social service lady called my daughter and said she was happy with my daughter and her boyfriend . She was trying to see the father with my granddaughter but he was not available to do that. She told my daughter she was going to have a firm word with him. My daughter did suggest she see him without his wife as she may then see the other side of him. But i believe she only managed to speak with him on the phone on this occasion.
The judge was not happy with social services, that they had closed the case. Which surprised me as social services and visited several times and visited my granddaughter at school several times.The took more notice of cafcas, who had only seen my daughter and the father for 15 minutes before the case.
i assume there was a report from social services, but i am not aware of it.
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Your daughter will need to check with social services and if there is not report request their views on whether they have concerns that the child may suffer abuse from the father. If it is dated now, and specifies the child's name as the potential victim and the father as the perpetrator then this would be qualifying evidence for legal aid.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will pass that onto my daughter.
Can you suggest any sites or guidance in representing ourselves.
I dont know how people manage since legal aid stopped.
How do everyday people learn how to represent themselves, learn the jargon and what is required.
The fathers family has money, the solicitor came to the house at 7.15pm the evening we took the judges papers to return my granddaughter.
Whatever the outcome, i know this will happen again and again, as that is what the father is like.
I worry as this is affecting my granddaughter. We never speak about anything in front of her. But from the things she comes home from her father saying and her behaviour, i know it is having a bad effect on her, with night terrors and being very unsettled fro a few days after returning from her father. My daughter has sort help from the doctor about this several times , but there is only help for physical abuse, not for mental.
Thank you for trying to help.
Sorry i waffle on. just trying to find answers. Thanks you
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
To be honest, I think your daughter needs to explore all her options in attempting to obtain legal aid. As there has been social services involvement recently they are best equipped to assist and provide a letter as outlined above. Otherwise, attempting to understand the whole process to represent herself may be too daunting given the circumstances.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Daunting it certainly is but we may have no other option. I will get her to contact social services first thing in the morning. I wonder if the court will give her a couple of days extra to put her paperwork in. I think we need to go to the court tomorrow and see what they can advise.
Again thank you for your advice.
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Please rate my response positively if you found it helpful. Do feel free to come back to raise any further questions after she speaks to social services and the court. You can ask me directly here:
Expert:  Harris replied 2 years ago.
Hi, this question remains open. If you found my information provided helpful please could you rate my response positively so that the question can be closed.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.