Help with Legal Costs

While it is rare to secure financial help with the legal costs involved with a divorce when both parties agree to the divorce, it may be possible to obtain financial aid when the divorce is contested (a defended divorce).

If you are successful in applying for financial help, you may still be required to repay at least some of the legal costs back from the money or property you are awarded as part of the final divorce settlement. This is called the statutory charge.

General guidance on legal help

If you are in receipt of welfare benefits
You will automatically qualify for legal help if you are currently receiving income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit.

If you are not in receipt of any of these benefits, you have to satisfy the income and capital criteria outlined below.

If you are employed or have other income
You will only receive legal help if your gross monthly income (your monthly income before tax and national insurance deductions, excluding certain social security benefits) is below £2,530*. You will have to include your partner's income in your stated gross monthly income unless your partner is the person who you are in dispute with (as during divorce proceedings).

If your gross monthly income is worked out to be less than £2,530, your solicitor will determine your disposable monthly income (the amount of income you have left after deductions have been made for national insurance, child support and tax).

In order to receive legal help, your disposable monthly income must be less than £698. If this is the case, you won’t have to contribute anything towards legal help.

* This allowance is increased by £211 for each additional child if you have more than four children (i.e. for your fifth child onwards).

If you have capital
To qualify for legal help, and you have disposable capital, your total disposable capital must be less than £8,000. Your disposable capital will include:

• bank and building society savings and investments
• valuable possessions
• the value of your home if you are a homeowner. The valuation of your home will depend on how much the property is worth and how much your mortgage is if you have not fully repaid it.

If you meet all of the above criteria, you may be eligible for financial help with the resolution of your divorce.

For this, you will need to find a solicitor or an adviser who has a contract to provide legal aid representation. You will need to fill in an application form at the start of the interview with your chosen solicitor. The information from your application form will be used to confirm whether you qualify.