The government has promised to extend legal aid support to anyone with parental responsibility for a child who wants to challenge applications for placement or adoption orders.
The government will also extend eligibility for non‑means tested legal aid for parents or anyone with parental responsibility who would like to oppose applications for placement orders or adoption orders in public family law proceedings. The Ministry of Justice will bring these policies in line with care and other orders classified under “Special Children Act 1989 cases”. Special Children Act cases include care orders, supervision orders, child assessment orders and emergency protection orders.
The Ministry of Justice will also bring forward proposals to provide a less draconian merits test, which will be equivalent to the merits test currently applicable in “Special Children Act 1989 cases”.
At the same time, the government has promised to increase the scope of legal aid to include Special Guardianship Orders in private family law cases and support for separated migrant children in immigration cases.
As well as a review into legal aid for placement and adoption orders, the government has confirmed that it will increase support for people accessing the justice system as litigants in person.
The review is part of a Legal Support Action Plan, the details of which were published 7 February on the government’s official website. The plan has been designed to help improve access to legal advice and support.
You can read the press release here, which has links to various documents including the action plan.