Free First Joint Mediation Meetings from 3 November 2013 where one of the parties qualifies for Legal Aid
Additional mediation funding
The first single mediation session following a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) can be entirely funded by legal aid, where one party is financially eligible and the other party is not, from 3 November 2014.
This extra funding for family mediation is available in all cases where the first mediation session after the Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) takes place on or after 3 November.
Only the first joint meeting will be free to both
Unfortunately, where more than one mediation session is required the non legally aided participant will be required to pay the applicable fees.
However this is still excellent news. In our experience one or both potential participants to family mediation are often reluctant to proceed to the first joint meeting because whilst they wish to negotiate they do not truly believe that the other person does and they are concerned about spending money on the cost of family mediation particularly if family finances are tight. This is perfectly understandable.
This change should allow some couples to see how mediation actually works. If the first session is successful then hopefully it will lead to more cases proceeding to 2nd or third session and hopefully to a successful conclusion.
Taking a solution focused approach
The approach that I take to family mediation is very much solution focused.
What I tried to do in the Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) is to establish both what the problem is that needs to be resolved and I try to get a good sense of what the barriers are to achieving a resolution to that problem.
When I mediate financial cases I try to limit the mediation to 2 Meetings if possible. The first meeting would be aimed at establishing a joint financial picture and finding out what information is missing but which is needed to enable the couple to make informed decisions and achieve a joint solution to problem. The second meeting would then be working out what the solution is.
With mediation cases about the arrangements for children we would tend to have three or maybe four probably shorter meetings which would be aimed at breaking down changes in arrangements into manageable steps. Where both of the couple deliver what they say they are going to do and where they both able to avoid poor communication and unreliability, it is often possible to make significant progress. By the time we get to meeting three; if everything gone well, we are then looking at exit strategies which would mean that the couple would be better able to manage future changes without needing to return to mediation.
The way in which the legal aid agency funding the free initial meeting is more on the basis of their being short meeting to put the couple in a room together so that they can how mediation works in practice and how it is and perhaps as challenging as they thought it might be. The new funding arrangements are helpful and hopefully as a consequence more couples will access family mediation.
Our family mediation service is the only Family Mediation service which has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency which is actually based in East Devon. From our office in Honiton we assist couples living throughout East Devon including in Sidmouth, Seaton, Ottery St Mary and Axminster.
Out Legal Aid Contract also allows us to assist couples from our branch offices in Exeter and Taunton
Why not have a look at the video below?