We are not surprised that many people are confused about the availability of Legal Aid for family mediation. In recent times, Legal Aid cuts have made the headlines and Legal Aid for instructing a solicitor and taking family cases to court has been virtually stopped.
The message we want to get across loud and clear is - Legal Aid is still available for family mediation.
Here are our top three Legal Aid tips:
1. Find the right service
In order to offer Legal Aid work, mediation services must have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency. MyMediation is pleased to offer Legal Aid to clients who are financially eligible. If you’re looking for services in other areas use the Family Mediation Council database to search for mediators that offer Legal Aid.
2. Be prepared
At the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, the mediator will assess your eligibility for Legal Aid. In order to undertake the assessment, the mediator will need lots of information about your financial circumstances and will need to see certain documents. One of the main problems with obtaining legal aid is that people don’t have the right information at the assessment meeting. At MyMediation we have prepared a straightforward list setting out what information and documentation you need – you can find it here.
3. Know the numbers
If you are in receipt of Income Support, Income-based JSA, Income-related ESA or Guarantee Credit you will automatically be eligible for Legal Aid for family mediation.
If your monthly family income is under £2,657 and you do not have over £8000 in savings, the mediator will need further information so that they can determine your eligibility. MyMediation have developed a Legal Aid Calculator that you can use to give you an idea as to whether or not you might qualify for Legal Aid.
Our legal aid video guide explains how to fill in the legal aid calculator.
You will not be eligible for Legal Aid for mediation if your family income is over £2,657 per month or you have over £8,000 in savings.
If you qualify for Legal Aid then your mediation fees for the assessment and any mediation sessions will be covered by the Legal Aid Agency. In addition, you will be able to access limited free legal advice from a solicitor during the process of mediation. Even if only one of you is eligible for Legal Aid, the fees for the assessment meeting and the first mediation session for the other person will be paid for by the Legal Aid Agency.
So if one of you qualifies for Legal Aid and mediation is suitable in your case – what have you got to lose? Recent figures show that 64% of cases started at mediation resulting a successful outcome.