Unlike in care proceedings, where legal aid is automatic, most applications outside of care proceedings are means and merits assessed. This could include an application to appeal a fact finding judgment, an application to discharge a care order, an application to reopen a fact find, etc. This means that your income will be considered along with your prospects of success.
Legal aid is therefore not guaranteed; further, it can be very difficult to obtain. If your prospects of success (in the view of a lawyer) are low (or less than reasonable) it is unlikely that you will be granted legal aid. Often it is necessary to obtain written advice from a barrister to outline the prospects of success and demonstrate to the Legal Aid Agency why legal aid should be granted. As with all means and merits assessed legal aid, it will be subject to review and if your circumstances change it may be withdrawn.
The Legal Aid Agency have an ‘eligibility calculator’ on its website where you can enter your income and outgoings and it will indicate what type of legal aid, if any, you are entitled to and whether you have to pay any contribution towards it. Please note that certain state benefits are ‘excluded’ therefore you do not need to include them in the assessment (such as income support or DLA, see the guidance on the LAA website). It can be found here: