Children whose parents have to go through matrimonial courts without expert representation will be the biggest victims following a nationwide cut in legal aid for family law issues, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.
Unless proper guidance is given to couples going to court over matrimonial and children matters, kids are likely to be left in a less secure environment than under the old system where legal aid was available, says Jackie Meredith of Mortimers solicitors.
Family law expert Mrs Meredith said that the withdrawal of legal aid for almost all family law cases will lead to “chaos” in the courts.
“We are entering a situation where people are having to represent themselves in a court of law which for most will be a new and daunting experience,” said Mrs Meredith, who is based in Mortimers’ Shrewsbury office.
“I fear it will lead to chaos in the courts and, as traumatic as it is for those couples, it may well end up that their children will be left in a far more uncertain state after the proceedings than they were previously.
“Legal firms are having to reappraise the way they operate and at Mortimers we are tailoring what we offer.
“Where clients are unable to afford the costs of full representation, we aim to provide them with a helping hand and the empower them to speak up for themselves.
“Many of these people are already in a highly emotional state and have also probably never set foot inside a court in their lives.”
On April 1 legal aid funding was withdrawn from the majority of private family cases which includes divorce proceedings.
Mrs Meredith is part of an eight-strong team of family lawyers at Mortimers which has offices in Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Hereford.