So, I got home last night to a letter from a “collections” agency. Letter dated 31 May advising husband that he can pay in instalments the nearly £10,000 contribution to his legal aid.
Sorry, run that by me again – he didn’t even know legal aid had been granted. It would seem this is how the British legal system now works. Let me pull the scales from your eyes if you are, like I WAS, an regular, middle class, tax paying, garden centre visiting, Sunday Times reading, decent coffee-loving, organic food eating, fair trade purchasing, comfy clothes wearing, “what’s a pedicure” thinking, Radio 4 listening, let’s go for a walk type woman. You are Guilty until proved innocent and should you cross the line you will be hammered into the ground until it is simply not possible for you to return to anything that you would class as a life worth living.
I’m going to paint a scenario here – and it could be our case or someone else’s. A person steals money from his employer. He gets found out. He offers to pay the money back. They appoint top lawyers to deal with the situation. The man’s family knows nothing of what has been going on but in order to pay back the money the family home has to be sold. The wife says “hang on, surely 50% of this home is mine?”. Error, only if you get a divorce can you keep your 50%. The couple think ok, we should pay the money back, we can move somewhere smaller with an amount of money being granted to the wife. Strangely though the amount taken has now increased – “that’s not fair” think the couple. Wrong – you stole so now we are going to steal from you. The couple think about getting a lawyer but of course, with everything having been handed over the the ex-employer, there’s nothing to pay a lawyer with, so the couple have to agree to everything. We can rebuild our lives says the husband. After being arrested, he suddenly thinks, hang on, I’ve no bank account, I’ve understandably got to make a contribution to my legal costs, but if I get sent to prison, my wife will end up paying these fees and on her salary she’ll have no money to buy food or pay the gas bill. On top of that, when I get out of prison, I’ll have a criminal record so I can kiss goodbye to trying to get a job because society is not too keen on ex-offenders, even those who have paid their dues to society and now want a fresh start.
Our next step is for him to complete a “hardship” form in the hope that the contribution can be reduced. Either that or can we divorce in order for me to protect my assets? Never.