Is Legal Aid still available for family cases?

In April 2013 fundamental changes were made to legal aid following the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

Since those changes, the landscape for the provision of legal aid has changed beyond all belief and recognition and the figures from the first year of civil justice reforms show that access to civil legal aid has fallen by more than half and some categories of law have already become almost entirely inaccessible for state funding.

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Do I really need a Cohabitation Agreement?

More and more people in England and Wales are choosing to live together without getting married – at the last count, there were over 4 million people “co-habiting”.

Many individuals given the ever increasing cost of purchasing a home do so with a partner before marriage and many such couples worryingly believe that after a few years they become common law husband and wife and so believe that they have the same rights as married couples upon separation. 

Unfortunately, whilst this has been advocated for by professionals for some time now, this isn’t the case. As far as the law is concerned, common law marriage hasn’t existed in England and Wales since 1753.

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How do I change my name?

If you wish to be known by a different name you can change your name at any time provided you do not intend to deceive or defraud another person.

Although there is no legal procedure or legal way to change a name, many individuals will be asked for evidence that you have changed your name for the purposes of for example applying for a passport.

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6% Drop in number of cases started in Family Courts

The number of cases started between January to March 2014 in family courts in England and Wales shows a 6% drop in comparison to the same quarter in 2013, according to a new Ministry of Justice report.

In January to March 2014, divorce proceedings accounted for 45% of all new cases issued in the family court, with private law proceedings then coming to 19% and financial remedy proceedings amounting to 16%.

In total, relationship breakdown cases now account for over 80% of the courts’ workload.

Broken down, the reports key findings include:

  • In private law, between January and March 2014, there were 12,065 private law cases issued (this being approximately 11% lower than equivalent quarters in previous years) and 13,289 cases that ultimately reached a final disposal hearing (this continuing the upward trend of more contested hearings being required to conclude cases).
  • In public law, between January and March 2014, there were 3,762 new care proceedings cases issued (this being at or near to the number for previous years) and 3,532 cases that reached a final disposal. The average time for the disposal of care and supervision cases is reported to be now at 32 weeks (the requirement now being set by law that proceedings should be resolved within 26 weeks from date of issue).

The full report is available to download via