Legal Advice

This guidance explains how you may be able to get free legal advice about your case.

RCJ Advice can provide free legal advice if you are involved in a family law case in England and Wales. If you live in London, you can book an appointment to see one of their solicitors at the Central Family Court. If you live outside of London they can sometimes provide legal advice on the phone or by email. They will assess your advice needs and either make an appointment for you for the following week or give you details of who else can help you. 

To book an appointment drop into their office on the 4th floor of the Central Family Court or call 0203 475 4373. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm. It is best to call as early as possible in the week as appointments book up very fast (The  voicemail will tell you if the appointments for the next week are gone). So many people need to use this service that they are only able to offer a maximum of three appointments to each person.

Divorcing or ending a civil partnership?

CourtNav is an online tool that helps you complete the divorce forms correctly and ensures they are checked by a solicitor before you submit your documents to Court, giving you the confidence of knowing that your documents are correct. To use Courtnav, make an appointment at your local Citizens’ Advice.

The Family Law Panel (FLP)  offers members of the public an intial information service  free of charge. This gives families the ability to better understand their situation and be fully briefed on their options for moving forward. The Panel also offers a "reduced fees scheme" for individuals earning (as a guide) less than £20,000 per year and with less than £20,000 in accessible savings. Professionals offering advice under this scheme at around £125 per hour (plus VAT) and can be identified on the website by a green disc.

LawWorks supports over 200 advice clinics that provide free initial legal advice to individuals on various areas of law including family issues, and domestic violence. They can offer you 15-45 minutes to explain an issue and you can receive basic advice on the next steps to take. Some clinics may also offer to draft a letter. In order to use the time efficiently, please see What to bring to your appointment at a LawWorks clinic (PDF)Use their search to see if there is a clinic near you offering advice on the area of law you need help with. 

Law Centres offer face-to-face legal advice to local residents, and some run a telephone advice line. Find out if there is a law centre near you.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre offers a Child Law Advice Service where you can get free and confidential advice on specific questions you may have on family law and education law if you do not have legal representation. The demand for the advice line is high, so they are only able to answer a limited number of calls. Make sure you read through the information on their website and only contact the support line with specific questions on the information provided. You can only get advice if you are a resident of England. To contact them about a family law matter, call: 0300 330 5480 or if you are contacting them about an education matter, call: 0300 330 5485. Calls cost the same as calls to 01 and 02 numbers. They will be included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package. Lines are available Monday-Friday between 8am-6pm.  

They also offer a call-back service between 8am-5.300pm Monday-Friday. There is a charge of £20 for a 30 minute advice call and then an additional charge of an extra £10 for each additional 15 minutes.

Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford a solicitor. Call: 0207 251 6577 for a family law matter. Lines open Tuesday 7pm-9pm, Wednesday 7pm-9pm, Thursday 7pm-9pm and Friday 12pm-2pm. 

If you are a woman in London. Rights of Women offer a dedicated advice line. Call: 0207 608 1137. Lines are open Monday 11am-1pm, Tuesday 2-4pm, Wednesday 2-4pm, and Thursay 2-4pm. 

The Bar Pro Bono Unit can help find you a barrister who can provide you with specialist legal advice but they ask that you seek initial legal advice from a clinic or Citizens' Advice before approaching them. They can help with any legal issue as long as you are not eligible for legal aid and don't have enough money to pay for legal help.

To access the service, you need someone from an advice agency (such as a CAB or Law Centre), or a MP or practising lawyer to refer you. You need to send a completed application form (on paper, not email) at least three weeks before the hearing or deadline for the piece of work you want help with. You can find information about how to apply here: Bar Pro Bono Unit - do you need help?

If the casework team do not think that they have enough information in the application, they will ask you to supply more. Once the casework team is satisfied that they have enough information, the casework team will send your application to a senior barrister. The senior barrister’s job is to determine whether the Unit should find you a barrister. If they decide that the Unit should find you a barrister, the casework team will start looking for a barrister to help you. Because they rely on volunteers, they cannot guarantee to find someone to help you, but they will do their best.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit finds barristers to assist you with a particular task in your case. So if your application is successful, you will receive help to do a specific task. After that, if you need further help you can apply again, providing at least three weeks' notice.

National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) offers information, advice, advocacy and legal representation for children, young people and vulnerable adults dealing with family law issues. Call 0808 808 1001. Lines open Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm or you can email your questions to help@nyas.net 

 If you have not found a service that can help you see our Help Directory or go back to the Going to the family court section.  

October 2016

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