Legal aid rules changed in April 2013, meaning most people who need a solicitor after separation or divorce must pay as a private client.
However, legal aid is still available in certain circumstances. You are entitled to legal aid if:
There is also a limited amount of independent legal advice funded through legal aid for people who have used mediation.
Family mediators are professionals trained to help people at any point in the separation process. They will listen to you, provide you with legal information (but not advice) and help you make informed decisions about the future.
You will usually be offered an individual one-to-one meeting, during which you can talk through your situation and discuss what to do next. It is a personalised service and the mediators can also signpost you to the specific help you need.
Using mediation alongside a solicitor can be a good way of keeping costs down.
If you do not qualify for legal aid, mediation fees are generally cheaper than using solicitors. Research shows that agreements are made more quickly than going to court .
You can find more information on how to contact local mediation services that offer legal aid through Resolution.
You may qualify for legal aid to see a solicitor if:
If you do not qualify for legal aid, you can ask a solicitor if they offer a free half hour or a fixed fee initial meeting.
 Bourn, J (2007). Legal Services commission: Legal aid and mediation for people in family breakdown. National Audit Office. London: The Stationary Office. http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/0607256.pdf