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Legal aid is available for family mediation.
This type of legal aid is at the controlled work level. There is more fully explained on our legal aid homepage. Basically, the legal aid is administered by us on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency. The Legal Aid Agency will review our files later on to make sure that we have applied the rules correctly.
Legal Aid for family mediation is means tested.
The means test is based upon the calendar month prior to the assessment meeting.
On the Legal Aid Agency Website – which is generally intended for professionals – there is a financial eligibility calculator. Here is a link to the Civil Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator
After you press start you go onto a page which are some questions which need to be answered before the calculator starts– the answer to question 1. For our purposes is to tick the third box.
As a general guide – if you have a very low/no income or is in receipt of universal credit they will pass the income part of the means test.
If you are working but do not qualify for universal credit – it is unlikely that you will pass the income part of the test.
There is also a capital test. This can be complicated. The amount of equity in any properties are taken into account. However the legal aid agency rules only take into account the first £100,000 of any mortgage. If the mediation is about financial issues – there is an additional capital allowance regarding the subject matter of the dispute.
If you are seeking legal aid and you qualify on the income part of the means test – legal aid is definitely a possibility – but we would need to go through the capital part of the test. Passing the income part of the test is no guarantee that you will qualify for legal aid for family mediation.
Evidence needs to be provided in support of the application for legal aid. This is normally in the form of payslips, bank statements and letters which confirm the entitlement to a particular benefit. The means test applies to you and a partner living with you (if they are not the other party in the case).
There are limited deductions that are allowed. Childcare is one – so we would need to see evidence of what is actually being paid in childcare costs in the relevant period.
if you qualify for legal aid for family mediation then the legal aid agency will cover your share of the costs of the family mediation. You do not have to pay anything.
The legal aid will also cover the costs of the other person for their initial assessment meeting and for the first joint meeting in family mediation – even if they do not qualify for legal aid themselves.
In this scenario the legal age and the will pay for our time for the initial assessment meeting and they will also pay for your share of our time for the first joint meeting. They will not pay anything else.
After the first joint meeting you will pay for our time as a private paying client. For mediation – the charge rate for each client is one half of the mediator’s normal private hourly rate. We would discuss this more with you at the initial assessment meeting.
If you are unlikely to qualify for legal aid family mediation but the other person is – it is always better to see the other person first – that way we all know where we stand regarding costs as quickly as possible.
The legal aid agency pays fixed fees to mediators. Sadly, these fees have not been increased since the legally aided mediation scheme was introduced more than 20 years ago. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that whilst the level of the fees was okay – they are not very good at all now. For this reason, quite a number of mediators/mediation services have given up their legal aid contracts.
For the time being, we continue to offer a legally aided service for family mediation.
However, realistically the legal aid only just about covers three mediation meetings. It is therefore very important that anyone wanting to mediate through legal aid is in the right frame of mind to enable them to be solution focused. Remember, mediation is assisted negotiation. Negotiations are about finding good solutions which provide win-win’s. A good solution very rarely means that one agrees to do what everything the other wants them to.
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