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Family law news – U-turn on reforms

23rd April 2012

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke confirmed that he will adapt the reforms so that victims of violence are able to obtain help in using the UK’s family law system.

Under the original plans, only women who pursued their cases through the family courts could be certain of obtaining legal aid.

However, critics were strident in condemning the restrictions imposed as potentially dangerous to the welfare of abused women.

As such, Mr Clarke has revised the plans so that women can apply for legal aid if they have a supporting letter from a GP, refuge or social services organisation.

Mr Clarke trumpeted the U-turn as “fairly formidable”, and characterised the changes as “pretty generous”.

Despite the concessions, the government remains firm in its commitment to reduce the number of family cases heard in the courts.

Mr Clarke commented, “We do want more of these cases not to be conducted by lawyers financed by the taxpayer engaging in adversarial litigation about where children are going to live, what maintenance should be paid by one party or the other, or what share of the matrimonial home is going to be owned by one party or the other.”

Family law lawyers have been almost unanimous is opposing the original proposals.

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