We are participating in the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – worth £500 towards the cost of family mediation
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
I am pleased to say that we are participating in the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme.
The purpose of the scheme is to promote the benefits of family mediation and to encourage families with suitable cases to mediate – rather than to take their cases to the family courts.
More about The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
The scheme runs from the 26 March 2021.
The scheme will offer mediation participants a financial contribution of up to £500 per family towards the total costs of their mediation.
This payment will be made directly to mediation providers by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) which is administering the scheme on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
There are some important points to note:
- The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme covers mediation about child arrangements only – NOT about financial issues.
- The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme does not cover the cost of a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM. These preliminary assessment meetings will continue to be funded either by legal aid (the legal aid scheme can pay all of the cost of these meetings for both parties – provided that one is financially eligible – which normally means being in receipt of universal credit) or by the mediation service charging a fee to each participant. The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme applies from the first joint mediation meeting.
- The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme is not based on any assessment of income or capital. It is therefore available to those who qualify for legal aid and those who don’t.
- However where both mediation participants are eligible to receive legal aid for family mediation, the entire cost of the mediation will still be paid by the legal aid agency under the rules of the family mediation legal aid scheme. This means that if a couple who were both eligible for legal aid for family mediation chose to mediate using a mediation service which does not have a legal aid contract – but using the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – then the voucher would only pay for the first £500 of the mediation (including VAT charges) – and the couple would then have to pay the rest of the cost. So if one of the couple is eligible for legal aid – it is still best to use a mediation service with a legal aid contract (like ours).
- If one of the mediation participants is legally aided and the other participant is not legally aided – then it is still best to use a mediation service with the legal aid contract (like ours), because the legal aid scheme will pay for the assessment meetings and the first joint meeting. There will normally be additional meetings. The legal aid will continue to cover the cost of the legally aided person – but the voucher will pay for the costs of the non-legally aided person. (Otherwise mediation service would make a charge for their time to the non-legally aided person) – so what this means is that the non-legally aided person will effectively have their share of the cost of an extra mediation meeting and paperwork paid for them).
- There is one voucher per mediation. In other words there isn’t a voucher for each person – but one voucher per mediation process that is started.
- The Ministry of Justice are investing £1 million in the scheme. The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme will last until this money has been spent – and the scheme will then finish. This means that the scheme could last until mid April or it could last into the summer.
The benefits of the family mediation voucher scheme – but simplified
Hopefully that doesn’t make it sound too complicated. To put it another way:
- Remember – the scheme covers mediation about child arrangements only.
- If you qualify for legal aid for family mediation (usually this means being in receipt of universal credit – although there is also an eligibility test for saving/assets) – then this doesn’t really affect you – as if you use a mediation service with the legal aid contract – then family mediation is free as far as you are concerned.
- If you don’t qualify for legal aid for family mediation but the other person does – then this is really helpful because the legal aid will pay for your share of the first joint mediation meeting and the voucher scheme will pay for the second and may be the third or some of the third and some of the paperwork – so this will make family mediation more accessible.
- If neither of you qualify for legal aid for family mediation – then this makes it easier to proceed to a first joint family mediation meeting in order to find out whether mediation is a process which could work for you and the other party to try and sort things out – and as an alternative to court.
- There are only a limited number of £500 vouchers under the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – so when they’re gone – the scheme ends. So if you are thinking about family mediation – then it’s a good idea to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.
The voucher will clearly give a family much better value if they use a mediation service with the legal aid contract (like ours) and if one of the participants qualifies for legal aid and the other does not.
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme has now been launched – so if you want to take advantage the starting point is to book your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting to find out more.
Our Family Mediation Service
There is lots about family mediation in the mediation pages on our website
We have a contract with the legal aid agency to undertake legally aided family mediation.
Our family mediators are also experienced family solicitors. When we are acting as family mediators, we are neutral between the couple, or rather, we will assist both equally. Mediation is negotiation – but family mediation is negotiation about issues where there are legal implications and the alternative is an application to the court for a legal order. As lawyers we are well versed with the relevant law and procedures. Whilst we can’t give advice when we are assisting the family mediators, we can give very relevant and focused information about relevant legal matters. This can give couples confidence and assist couples to find solutions relevant to their own families. We are also able to say if a proposal is outside of the realms of what a court would consider to be reasonable.
As family mediation takes place in the shadow of the law – we are of the view that family mediation is better carried out by mediators who also family lawyers.
Our experienced family mediators
Our experienced family mediators are Ian Walker and Lisa Holden
Ian Walker’s experience includes:
- Being a specialist family law solicitor since 1992
- Mediating since 1996. Accredited by Family Mediation Council: FMCA 0292A
- Mediating with the civil/hybrid mediation style since 2012.
- Former trustee of the Family Mediators Association
- Member of Law Society children panel since 1996 and child law arbitrator
- Collaborative family lawyer since 2005
Lisa Holden’s experience includes:
- Being a specialist family law solicitor since 1999
- Mediating since 2009. Accredited by Family Mediation Council: FMCA 0762A
- Resolution accredited Specialist in complex finances and children cases.
- Member of Law Society Family Law Panel
- Collaborative family lawyer since 2010
As you can see – we have a very experienced team.
How to get started and to use your Family Mediation Voucher
If you want to explore the viability of family mediation – the starting point is to get in touch with us.
Just give us a call. We will arrange a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting and then take things from there.
You don’t need to worry about the paperwork for the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – we will sort this out with you.
Mediation by videoconference
Since March 2020, we, like most other mediators have adapted to the use of video-conferencing for family mediation. On the whole this has worked very well.
Clients have reported to us that they like the convenience of video-conference and also that meetings can be more comfortable because they are not in the same room as the other party. Video-conference also allows mediation to be more viable where the participants live some distance from each other.
So, if you want to know more – just email or give us a call…