After months of listening to what each party can give to the country after today’s election, it is finally time for the politicians to be quiet for a day to allow everyone to get out there and vote.

This year’s lead-up has been one-of-a-kind, with 7 different parties being given a voice on the televised debates, and social media such as twitter and Facebook having an even bigger presence leading up to voting day. As some of you reading this will have already voted (in which case, excellent work!), I thought it would be interesting to see just how Family Law may be affected when we have a new Parliament.

I have chosen the main 5 parties in today’s election and explored the pledges they have made in their manifestos.

Labour

Sadiq Khan – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor

Victims of domestic violence will be given easier access to legal aid, Labour says. The expected £5m cost of expanding the scheme will be paid for by increases in the victim’s surcharge. Presently, victims seeking legal aid must produce documentary evidence that they meet the criteria when they are currently most at risk from violent partners.

Conservatives

Chris Grayling – Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

The Conservatives confirm in their manifesto that “we will continue to review our legal aid systems, so they can continue to provide access to justice in an efficient way.” However, they have pledged a £13 billion departmental saving as well as £12 billion in welfare savings. Either of these could fall into the legal aid budget. The party vows to support relationships with £7.5 million a year. There will also be an introduction of regional adoption agencies.

Liberal Democrats

Simon Hughes – Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties

The Liberal Democrats declare in their manifesto that “access to justice is an essential part of a free society and a functioning legal system.” They recognise the “significant savings” that have been made over the last Parliament, but confirm that in the next they will turn their priority to “delivering efficiency in the Ministry of Justice”. They are proposing changes to the criminal Legal Aid market, and encourage a further use of mediation for separating couples. They pledge to give legal rights and obligations to cohabiting couples, and to permit humanist weddings and opposite sex civil partnerships.

Green Party

The Green Party pledges to “make equality before the law a fundamental constitutional right. But this is only a reality if all can afford to use the law. We would restore the cuts to legal aid, costing around £700 million a year.” They will also “reintroduce legal aid for reasonable levels of immigration and asylum work”. There will be new funding for women’s refuges, as well as a commitment to tackling discrimination against woman and children. There is however so clear way of funding this, without increasing our taxes exponentially.

UKIP

UKIP have not referred to legal aid in their manifesto, however they are pledging to bring 800 advisors to sit in food banks, which suggests this could include legal advice. They pledge to introduce a 50/50 shared parenting law, and a presumption that grandparents should see their children.


Victoria Clarke – rhw Solicitors llp

If you have questions connected to this article of would like advice on any other area of Family Law, please contact rhw’s Family Law Team by phone on 01483 302000  or send your email to our family law team at family@rhw.co.uk