The Law Society Gazette reports today that, as part of the half a billion pounds cut to the legal aid budget, legal aid is expected to be removed for ancillary relief.
This could have an enormous impact, seriously disadvantaging the financially weaker party to ancillary relief claims.
I suspect that the rationale for targeting ancillary relief is that it deals with the division of family assets, and those assets can therefore be used to pay legal bills. However, it is not always as simple as that. For example, the vast majority of ancillary relief cases involve the former matrimonial home and in a substantial number of them one party, usually with the children, seeks to remain in the property. If, as is often the case, there are no other assets, that party's legal aid charge attaches to the property, to be repaid when the property is sold. How is such a party going to be able to pay their legal charges on a private basis? Solicitors won't be prepared (or able) to wait for payment of their fees. The only obvious solution I can think of is getting a loan, possibly secured against the property, but this is surely going to overstretch an already limited family budget.
I hope the implications of this are given full consideration before any changes are made.