Legal aid when a child is at risk of abuse from a partner

When a child is at risk of abuse from a partner, you can get legal aid to help with issues such as child contact. To do so you must be able to give your solicitor one of the forms of evidence of child abuse listed below.

If you need to get evidence of a criminal conviction, police caution or of ongoing criminal proceedings for a child abuse offence, you will need to check against this list that the offence is one which is considered child abuse.

This guidance refers to your ex-partner as in the majority of cases this is who your case will be against. However, it equally applies to any other person who you are in dispute with.

Click on the forms of evidence below to find out more about what each one is and how to get it if you need to:

Evidence of criminal convictions for a child abuse offence

If the person you are seeking to protect the child from has a criminal conviction for a child abuse offence, this will count as evidence for legal aid. It will not count if the conviction is ‘spent’.

If you do not have a written record of this (such as a letter from the Police) you will need to get a record of the conviction for your legal aid application.

  1. Check that the offence your ex-partner was given a caution for was a child abuse offence.
  2. You will need to know the court where your ex-partner was sentenced You can either write to court or visit them in person. [information about magistrates’ and Crown Courts]. Sometimes a case is heard in a magistrates’ court, but sentenced in the Crown Court. The magistrates’ court should be able to tell you where the sentencing took place. If you do not know the court, you could ask the police officer who was leading the investigation.
  3. Complete either the magistrates court criminal conviction template letter or crown court criminal conviction template letter as much as you can and send it to the relevant court. You may have to pay a fee for the copy of the record. Do NOT send your letter to the court’s legal aid unit if it has one.
If the offence took place outside the United Kingdom then this can also be used but the Legal Aid Agency will decide whether or not to accept it. You should write to the relevant law enforcement agency in the country where the offence took place asking for confirmation of the conviction. You should ask them to provide this in English if possible.

If they cannot provide the evidence in English, you will need to provide either the original letter or document from the relevant agency, with a translation into English.

 

Evidence of relevant Police bail for a child abuse offence

If the person you are seeking to protect the child from has been given relevant Police bail for any child abuse offence in the UK where the bail is current, this will count as evidence for legal aid.

You will need a written record of the police bail (such as a letter from the police) for your legal aid application.

  1. Check that the offence the person you are seeking to protect the child from was given Police bail for, pending charge, was for a child abuse offence.
  2. Complete this police bail template letter as much as you can and send it to the Data Protection Officer at the police force which gave the Police bail.
 

Evidence of a Police caution for a child abuse offence

If the person you are seeking to protect the child from has been given a Police caution for a child abuse offence in the UK within the last two years this will count as evidence for legal aid.

You will need a written record of the caution  (such as a letter from the police) for your legal aid application.

  1. Check that the offence the person you are seeking to protect the child from was given a caution was for a child abuse offence.
  2. Complete this police caution template letter as much as you can and send it to the Data Protection Officer at police force which gave the caution.

Evidence of ongoing criminal proceedings for a child abuse offence

If the person you are seeking to protect the child from has been charged with a child abuse offence within the UK but has yet to be convicted in a court then that will count as evidence for legal aid.

If you do not already have a written record of this (such as a letter from the police) you will need to get a copy of the charge sheet  for your legal aid application.

Complete this ongoing criminal proceedings template letter as much as you can and send it to the Data Protection Officer of the police force that arrested your ex-partner.

Evidence of a protective injunction

A ‘protective injunction’ is a court order that would have told the person you are seeking to protect the child from not to harass or threaten you or your children.

The following types of protective injunctions can be used for a legal aid application:

England and Wales

  • Non-molestation order
  • Occupation order
  • Forced marriage protection order
  • Restraining order

Scotland

  • Non-harassment order
  • Matrimonial, domestic or relevant interdict
  • Forced marriage protection order
  • Exclusion order

Northern Irish injunctions

  • Restraining order
  • Forced marriage protection order
  • Occupation order
  • Non-molestation order
If one of the protective injunctions above is currently in force against the person you are seeking to protect the child from, or if it has ended but was made within the last two years, then this can be used as evidence for legal aid.

You will need a copy of the order for your legal aid claim. You or your solicitor should have been given a copy of the order when it was issued.

If you need to get a copy of the order complete either the protective injunction template letter or the restraining order letter template as much as you can and send it to the relevant court. You may have to pay a fee for a copy of the order.

A finding of fact of child abuse by a court

A finding of fact is where a judge in a non-criminal case decides whether child abuse has occurred in a particular case. If there has been a finding of fact, in a UK court, of child abuse against a child by the person you are seeking to protect the child from then this can be used as evidence.

The finding of fact would be recorded on a court order and you should have been provided with a copy if your child was the subject of the order. If you do not have a copy of the order then you should complete the finding of fact template letter to request a copy from the court where the order was made.

You may have to pay a fee for a copy of the order.

Evidence from social services confirming child abuse

If your child has been assessed by social services or had a child protection plan put in place in the last 2 years that he/she is at risk of domestic violence by the person you are seeking to protect the child from, then this can be used as evidence. You will need a copy of the assessment for your legal aid application.

  1. If you have a copy of the assessment or plan make sure that it has your child’s name and that of the person you are seeking to protect the child from as being the abuser.
  2. If you do not have a copy or it does not have the right information on it then use the social services template letter to write to your local social services department. Use your local council’s website to find the address

Evidence of application for a protective injunction with a prohibited steps order

If you have applied for a protective injunction and a prohibited steps order at the same time, and they have yet to be determined, then this will count as evidence. Your solicitor for the application will be able to advise on whether this is the case.

If you are using the same solicitor for your children case, then they will already have a copy of the application. If you are using a different solicitor, then you will need to acquire a copy of both applications from the solicitor making the protective injunction application for you.

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