Changes to Family Legal Aid

Posted: 13 April 2023

From 1 March 2023, changes to Family Legal Aid came into effect. Means-free Legal Aid will now be available for parents and those with parental responsibility when opposing applications for placement and adoption orders in public family law proceedings involving local authorities.

Free legal representation

In Care Proceedings, parents are entitled to free legal representation, regardless of their income. Most applications for Placement Orders are made within the Care Proceedings. Applications for Adoption Orders, on the other hand, are made following the conclusion of Care Proceedings once children have been placed with adoptive families.

Before 1 March, if parents wished to oppose these applications, they would have to pass both a merits test and a means test.

Changes to Family legal aid

The New Position

Now parents are able to access Legal Aid to oppose Adoption Order applications on a merits test alone. The merits test for Legal Aid is that parents must be able to demonstrate a sufficient change in their circumstances.

Demonstrate change

In most cases, demonstrating sufficient change means that parents must have followed the recommendations made by experts during Care Proceedings. This often involves undertaking courses, and making significant lifestyle changes, such as stopping use of substances, or leaving a domestically abusive relationship. The changes would ideally have the result that their children would no longer be at risk in their care.

Opposing Adoption orders

Opposing an Adoption Order application can be an overwhelming and complex process, and it is important that parents can more easily access legal representation to help them. It is hoped that providing parents with better access to legal representation, with the extension in Legal Aid funding, will mean they are in a better position to oppose application for Adoption Orders.

For further information

If you are interested in a confidential chat with one of our family law solicitors regarding how they can support you with your children’s matters, or you would like further information on the services we offer, please call 01245 493959 or  send an email

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