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Legal aid cuts ‘damaging’ children

The legal aid cuts for family law cases is “damaging” to children, a judge has claimed.

Crispin Masterman, a family judge for Cardiff and Pontypridd, said the cuts undermine the Children Act 1989, which states that the welfare of children should be the “paramount consideration” of the courts.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) dramatically reduced the availability of legal aid. After the law was passed, the only family law cases eligible for legal aid were those involving domestic violence.

Talking to the BBC, Mr Masterman said that the cuts meant family disputes were taking much longer to be resolved than they had previously.

Section 1(2) of the Children Act states that delays in proceedings are “likely to prejudice the welfare of the child” so Mr Masterman declared that “anything which means that the resolution of a child’s interests takes longer, must be damaging to the child”.

This is just the latest legal professional to condemn the cuts to legal aid. Earlier this year, an organisation representing senior judges said legal aid cuts have increased court costs. The chair of family law organisation Resolution called the cuts “devastating”.

The popularity of the cuts has also plummeted amongst the general public, according to polling research done in July.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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