Legal Aid at Focus Mediation
Legal aid is still available for family mediation on divorce or family break-down and you can have free mediation if you are eligible for legal aid. Focus Mediation offers legal aid in: Milton Keynes, Watford, Oxford and St Albans.
How does it work?
The National Audit Office reported family mediation is a lot faster, cheaper and less stressful, than resolving family disputes through lawyers and the courts. The NAO also found that some lawyers were routinely by-passing mediation for their clients, as they had a contrary interest to earn fees. However, many lawyers are very supportive of mediation and send clients to mediate whilst they advise on their best interests.
How to find out if you’ll get legal aid
There is an online calculator on the Legal Aid Agency section of the Ministry of Justice website. Go to : http://www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid/assess-your-clients-eligibility/civil-eligibility-calculator to get an indication if you are likely to get legal aid.
If you want free mediation you come to a mediation intake assessment meeting (sometimes called a MIAM) which must be with a legal aid mediator. You’ll be assessed for legal aid eligibility properly at assessment. The mediator will be examining your capital and income from all sources in the month leading up to the assessment, including the day of the assessment. You will have to provide documentary evidence of your finances. If you qualify for legal aid you will not have to pay anything for either your mediation assessment or for mediation itself.
There are three types of family mediation for which legal aid is available:
Property and finance only
All issues mediation – i.e. both children and property and finance
There has to be a family dispute and the number of sessions will reflect the number of issues to be agreed and your approach to mediation. As a general guide there will be 1-3 sessions in a children only case, 1-4 sessions in a property and finance case and 1-5 sessions in an all issues case.
General Information about legal aid for family disputes whether on divorce or separation of co habitants.
General Information about legal aid for family disputes whether on divorce or separation of co habitants
If you get legal aid you will not have to pay a contribution, as legal aid for mediation is non-contributory. If your situation changes significantly after legal aid is granted, you may need to be re-assessed – this can mean either legal aid being granted or withdrawn, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Legal aid - if either of you is eligible for legal aid they can have it and this reduces the cost of sorting out your settlement by half – important as all dispute resolution costs come out of your joint pot one way or another
Gold standard accreditation FMCA (Family Mediation Council Accredited) all legal aid mediators have passed the gold standard for mediation accreditation. This means they will have spent about 1-2 years training with experienced mediators on the job. They will be better equipped to mediate successfully than a mediator who has only worked on a few cases and who may not be accredited at all. Always ask about your mediator’s experience and qualifications and ensure they are properly qualified and experienced, as there are no rules (such as there are with solicitors and barristers) preventing anyone holding themselves out as a mediator.
Audited against the Legal Aid Agency Quality Mark - with mediation, as with most services, it is best to go to an experienced, specialist professional service. The legal aid quality mark means a service is audited by the Legal Aid Agency against high quality standards. No one else is audited against anything.
Please call 01908 410508 for our hand out on applying for legal aid to familiarise yourself with the rules so you know what to bring with you to your assessment with a mediator.