Vincents Solicitors has secured two new Legal Aid contracts for childcare cases in Lancashire. A limited number of firms are able to act for clients who need Legal Aid for such cases, to cover the costs of a solicitor to represent them.
Families involved in care proceedings can now access Legal Aid via Vincents at Chorley and Lytham, along with the main office at Preston, following a decision by the Legal Aid Agency to grant Vincents the additional contracts. This allows the firm to support people in the central and south Lancashire region and across the Fylde Coast who are dealing with family courts in Chorley, Preston, Leyland and Blackpool.
Vincents’ family law team is now launching free consultations at its offices in Lytham, Chorley and Preston for families to speak to a solicitor to find out if they qualify for Legal Aid. Appointments are available at any time but must be booked.
Val Shaw, head of children law at Vincents, said the initiative would allow Vincents to provide better access to justice for more families.
She said: “Families at risk of losing their children require a lot of support. Legal Aid provides them with access to a solicitor who can make sure they understand the process, their rights and their responsibilities, and help to secure the best outcome for the child.
“Often parents don’t actually realise they can have legal representation from the outset, and sometimes call us at a late stage when the matter has already reached court. They really should get in touch as soon as they receive a pre-proceedings letter from the local authority, so that we can assist.”
Val is one of two fully accredited Law Society Children Law Panel solicitors at Vincents, along with Sarah Davis, with permission to represent children or their parents in public law court proceedings such as care matters where the local authority has intervened in the family due to concerns.
Val is also a private child law specialist, dealing with family break ups, and has recently been re-appointed to the Resolution Panel for Private Law Children Specialisms, having been a specialist since 2001.
In this respect she supports families where there is a disagreement following separation or divorce, about the time one parent spends with the children or about where they should live. Legal aid is restricted for private law issues but can still be available in some circumstances, a lawyer can best advise.
Val added: “It is important that children and parents are supported by solicitors with additional training and expertise in this specialist field throughout the court process. We have an extremely experienced and compassionate family law team here at Vincents and will always work closely with parents and the authorities to provide the best resolution for the children.”