In today’s age of austerity, this is an obvious way to ease the strain on the public purse. However, removing legal aid for all but the most serious family matters will leave many couples with a hefty bill or the prospect of going it alone.
The changes will be a particular knock-back for spouses who have no independent income of their own – those who have opted to stay at home to look after the kids, for example.
“Such people are usually, though not always, women. If the financially stronger spouse refuses to be fair, then lack of access to the courts is a serious problem,” says Bik Wong, a family solicitor at Hubbard Pegman and Whitney LLP.