Legal Aid Cuts 'Come at the Worst Possible Time'

The Birmingham Post (England), July 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

Legal Aid Cuts 'Come at the Worst Possible Time'


The Government's proposed cuts to Legal Aid come at the worst possible time, with a growing number of married couples already struggling, emotionally and financially, according to a Birmingham family law expert.

Fiona O'Sullivan, partner and head of family law at Challinors, says it is one of many factors which when combined could have a devastating effect.

"Stress from money worries and job security make day-to-day survival pretty tough," said Ms O'Sullivan. "The economic climate, the Government's public sector spending review, rising unemployment, static property prices and reduced bank lending combine to stack the odds against warring couples surviving.

"Britain has the highest divorce rate in the European Union, according to a recent survey by the EU's Eurostat statistical office. The number of divorces throughout the EU is on the increase, with an average of 1.8 divorces for every 1000 people. However, in Britain this figure rises to 2.8 divorces per 1000.

"For several years, men and women in their late twenties have had the highest divorce rates of all age groups, while the average age at divorce stands at around 44 for men and between 38 and 42 for women. The coalition Government's proposes to cut Legal Aid by pounds 300 million have sent ripples of discord across the legal profession and action groups. The cuts will see large groups of vulnerable people no longer eligible for legal help. The cuts carry with them an instant withdrawal of access for divorcing couples to legal representation for all family disputes, except those where domestic violence is involved. …

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