Legal aid cuts leave warring spouses stranded

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July 7, 2014

Legal aid cuts force warring couples into the arms of litigation lenders

Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner at Stowe Family Law, a hugely experienced divorce lawyer: one of those people whom, once you’ve spoken to them, you can no longer mention without attaching words like “redoubtable”. She doesn’t disagree that the outlook is poor, but she disagrees about the cause: since April last year, nobody has been eligible for legal aid, save for cases of domestic violence or forced marriage. “One or two incomes, one or two modest pensions, a modest home with a mortgage, a husband, a wife and two kids. That is the norm. These cases would normally have been dealt with with the assistance of legal aid and dispatched relatively cheaply. It’s that kind of case where people are genuinely suffering injustice now.”

The head of in-house forensic accountancy (surely the sexiest unsexy job title in the world) at Stowe Family Law, Nick White, explained. “Say the husband has £10m-worth of assets, and the wife has nothing, and you’re talking about a 20- or 30-year marriage, two kids, the wife is looking to have her share of assets. Unless you’re able to secure funds from, say, a wealth bank who are interested in managing her investment post-divorce, there is no real market for that lady to acquire funding.”

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