A law firm in Cornwall believes there could be a rush in divorce proceedings as couples try to take advantage of Legal Aid before the scheme is significantly reduced in April.
Coodes Solicitors, which has seven offices in Cornwall and Devon, anticipates people will make quicker decisions on the future of their marriage in order to take advantage of the current funding.
Government cuts mean that Legal Aid, which was originally set up in England and Wales in 1949, will, under current proposals, only be available to victims of domestic abuse from Monday, April 1.
Family lawyer at Coodes, Ian Taylor, said: “Legal Aid for advice relating to relationship breakdown, including divorce, children and finances, is being seriously reduced.
“There is likely to be a rush as couples and individuals on low incomes or benefits apply for divorce and other family related matters before the April deadline to avoid paying hundreds in legal fees.”
According to figures released in 2009, Legal Aid in England and Wales cost the taxpayer £2 billion a year, a higher per capita spend than anywhere else in the world.
It has been available to around 29% of the adult population.
Taylor added: “I think there is a perception that Legal Aid has only been available to people on benefits.
“That’s not the case. It has also been available to people on low incomes.
“When you consider the average salary in Cornwall is generally below the national average then the reduction in this scheme in April is going to have a huge impact.”