Following radical changes to Legal Aid on the 1st April, Legal Aid funding will no longer be available in many areas of family law in cases such as divorce, children & finances. The exception to this is where there are child protection issues or the applicant or a child is the victim of domestic abuse.
So what are the alternatives after the 1st April if you are on a low income but there is no domestic abuse?
Mediation is a proven and successful alternative and because of this, Legal Aid continues to be available to help separating couples resolve children and financial issues through mediation.
“At the initial meeting I will meet you and your partner separately to find out the issues you wish to mediate upon, for example financial, property, childcare or child contact, and discuss the various options available to you to reach a mutually acceptable solution. As a general rule this first meeting will be free. I will also assess whether you and/or your partner are eligible for Legal Aid.
Thereafter, should mediation be a suitable option, the sessions take place with all parties together. As a mediator I am neutral and will not take sides. I work with both parties to facilitate discussions to help you reach agreement. If an agreement is reached in mediation, I will prepare a summary of that agreement.
Not only will Legal Aid still be available for mediation (subject to eligibility), Legal Aid will also be available for someone who is going through mediation to obtain legal advice from a solicitor who has a Legal Aid contract.The solicitor can then prepare a court order or deed of separation to ensure that an agreement is enforceable.
Even where one or both parties are not financially eligible for legal aid, mediation can be faster and less expensive than pursuing matters through solicitor’s correspondence or through the courts.
Mediation sessions provide a structured environment in which couples can discuss issues relating to finances or arrangements for children.
Mediation has also been proved to be less ‘combative’ than the court process. As a result mediation can enable couples to restore direct communication and have an on-going dialogue for the benefit of themselves and their children.”
Kate Taylor is a qualified Solicitor who trained as a Mediator with the Family Mediators Association (FMA) in 1991. She is a Professional Practice Consultant and is accredited to provide supervision to other Mediators. Kate is also accredited to mediate directly with children and is a Board Member of the FMA and a member of the UK College of Family Mediators. Kate is authorised by the Legal Aid Agency to provide Legally Aided mediation.
FJG Family Law Partnership offers mediation from our six offices based in Colchester, Chelmsford, Billericay, Clacton and Fleet Street in Central London.
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