To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to ensure that women on low incomes are able to access legal aid in cases where a child arrangement order has been breached.
22 October 2020
Legal aid is available for certain specific private family law proceedings, including a breach of a child arrangement order (CAO), where a child is a party to those proceedings or where there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse. The Government ensures that legal aid is available for victims of domestic abuse in all private family proceedings subject to evidence requirements and statutory means and merits criteria being met. In April 2020 we laid an SI to widen the acceptable forms of evidence of domestic abuse.
In June 2020 we published the ‘Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases’ and our Implementation Plan in which we committed to a number of measures that aim to improve the outcomes for those who go through private law children proceedings, especially those who are most vulnerable. The Domestic Abuse Bill focusses on further improving the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims of domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse Bill completed its Commons stage on 6 July 2020. The Post-Implementation Review of LASPO (PIR), published in February 2019, also considered the impact of LASPO on victims of domestic abuse. In the Legal Support Action Plan, published alongside the PIR, we announced a review of the legal aid means tests, including a commitment to specifically considering the impact of the means test on victims of domestic abuse. This review will report in Spring 2021, at which point we will publish a full consultation paper setting out our future policy proposals in this area.