A guide to the Legal Aid changes…from a family law perspective

March 30, 2022

On 1 April 2022, the new Family Law Legal Aid scheme in Jersey will take effect. Under the new scheme you may not qualify for legal aid in relation to family law matters despite having been eligible under the old scheme.

In this article we explain the key changes and how this might affect you.

How do I get legal aid?

You can apply online or by contacting the Legal Aid office on 01534 613999.

You will need to complete a Legal Aid application and if you meet the eligibility criteria you will be granted Legal Aid.

Can I choose my lawyer?

No, Legal Aid is managed on a rota basis of all of the advocates/solicitors qualified in Jersey for under 15 years. When a Legal Aid Certificate is issued it is assigned to the next advocate or solicitor on the rota.

What is the criteria to qualify for Legal Aid?

Applicants for Family Law Legal Aid will need to meet three eligibility tests:

  1. Residence – Applicants must be ordinarily resident in Jersey and must have lived in Jersey for at least 12 months before applying for Legal Aid. Applicants must also be registered with Social Security.
  2. Financial – This will be assessed on an individual’s capital and income. To qualify for Legal Aid the applicant must have capital (value of property or equity in property, savings, and investments) of less than £50,000 and a total amount of income from all sources of less than £33,000.
  3. Subject matter – Legal Aid will only be available for a specific range of private family law matters including:
    • Divorce, Judicial separation, civil partnership or nullity proceedings where there are dependent children
    • Financial relief claims where there are dependent children
    • Child maintenance
    • Residence and contact disputes, removal from jurisdiction, prohibited steps orders and specific issue orders subject to family mediation having been considered by the parties
    • Injunctions and ex-parte orders and injunctions relating to family law matters
    • Claims by a child under the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973
    • Appeals in family proceedings (where Legal Aid has previously been granted), subject to a positive opinion.

Legal Aid will only be granted in matters where there are dependent children or a criminal prosecution has been instigated in relation to significant domestic abuse issues and/or a civil court order has been made.

Dependent children are those up to and including the age of 16, or in tertiary education (limited to a first degree only), on a recognised apprenticeship or who have been medically diagnosed with a special need that necessitates financial dependence from either parent.

Representation for parents involved in proceedings with the Children’s Service (public law children matters) will continue to be dealt with by a lawyer on the Children Panel, which is publicly funded.

Will I have to pay? How much?

Personal contributions will be payable in private law matters where the applicant’s income from all sources is more than £20,000. The Legal Aid Office will determine the level of contributions at the time of granting Legal Aid.

The contributions payable will be as follows:

Gross Income                    Contribution Level            Monthly Payment                   

Up to £20,000                      0                                          0

£20,001-£24,000                 10%                                     £25

£24,001 – £28,000               20%                                     £50

£28,001 – £33,000               30%                                     £100

What situations will no longer be covered under the new scheme?

Legal Aid will no longer be issued in respect of:

  • Adoptions
  • Financial claims where there are no dependent children
  • Divorce, judicial separation, civil partnership dissolution or nullity proceedings where there are no dependent children
  • Child maintenance where the applicant is receiving income support and has no other capital assets and no other sources of income although the Social Security Department may fund certain claims
  • Enforcement of maintenance orders
  • Pre or post nuptial agreements
  • Claims under the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973

Where can I go for information?

  • Citizens Advice Jersey – Citizens Advice can be a great starting point to use when considering what options are available to assist in resolving matters
  • Family Mediation Jersey – You may wish to consider attending mediation which can assist parties in reaching joint decisions to resolve and prevent further disputes.
  • Family Court Jersey – This is where you can find out some further information about family law court proceedings in Jersey.

How can BCR Law help me?

At BCR Law LLP we offer fixed fees for services in all our areas.

We are mindful that those who would have qualified for legal aid before, will be looking for assistance now beyond legal aid and we can help you.

We will be able to offer you a fixed fee for dealing with your divorce and any financial matters arising from your separation.

Learn more about fixed fees at BCR Law

Please contact our family team for more information.


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+44 (0) 1534 760 860
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