Using a Solicitor During Mediation

Should I Use a Solicitor During Family Mediation?


Family solicitors can no longer offer their clients Legal Aid unless their firm has a Legal Aid Contract and the case involves domestic violence, which is evidenced. This means that anyone who is likely to get Legal Aid because they are on benefits, or on a low income, now has to go via a ‘Legal Services Accredited Family Mediation Service Provider’.  


You don’t need a solicitor for family mediation, but we do recommend that you consult with a family solicitor during the mediation process. You may wish to consult a solicitor to begin with, in order that they can obtain background information, however this is not necessary. The mediator will speak to you about using solicitors for your divorce or family separation and the resolution options that you have during your MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting). Your solicitor should tell you that you need to attend a MIAM and find out about how mediation can help you resolve your dispute before you can apply to go to court over a family legal matter. You can’t bring your solicitor into any family mediation meeting.


What Solicitors should tell their family clients


If you see a solicitor first, the solicitor is obliged to tell you if you want to go to Court, it is now a legal requirement to attend a ‘MIAM’ (Mediation Information and Assessment Meetingwith a qualified Family Mediator, to find out all about family mediation, be assessed for your eligibility to make a claim for Legal Aid and to be made aware of the alternative options that are open to you before you can apply to go to the Family Court. If you have tried to make an application to take someone to court over a family matter, you will already be aware that you must attend a MIAM before you can make the application to go to court.


What Solicitors should tell you if you suffer from, or have suffered from domestic violence from the other person involved in the divorce or family separation dispute


If you suffer from domestic violence and you can evidence this, your Family Lawyer or Family Solicitor should tell you to contact a legal firm that holds a Legal Aid Contract. The firms are able to offer Legal Aid to clients who can evidence cases of domestic violence. This will enable you to apply for free legal help with that firm. Click HERE to see a list of the Solicitor firms in Kent that may be able to help this type of case. 


What Solicitors should tell you if you can’t afford to pay private legal fees

If you are on a low income, you are unemployed, or have low value capital assets; you do not need to pay expensive legal fees. You have the option to apply for Legal Aid through a Family Mediation Service provider that has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency. If you qualify for Legal Aid you can then get FREE Family Mediation. Click HERE to contact Kent Family Mediation Service. Kent Family Mediation can offer legal aid to family mediation clients who are assessed as being eligible to claim.

At what point do I need to see a Family Solicitor?

You may want to consult with your solicitor at any stage of the family mediation process; however it is important that you feel that you are making your own decisions.
We recommend that you speak to a Solicitor when you have reached an agreement during or whilst you are attending family mediation or if you are looking for divorce mediation. If your issues are only about your children, then this will be after we have drawn up a ‘Statement of Outcome.’
If your issues include property, finances and pensions, we will put this into a document which is called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). At this stage, it is very important that you obtain independent advice from a Family Solicitor about the legal implications of the agreement, particularly if the agreement is about property, finances and pensions.

Kent Family Mediation will forward any draft agreements to your nominated solicitor for approval.

After you and the other person have taken legal advice and signed the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) / Statement of Outcome (SOO), it can go to a solicitor to be made into a ‘Consent Order’. This will then be endorsed by the Family Court to make it legally binding. This is the final stage of the family mediation process. To find out more about what happens in family mediation click HERE

What is Collaborative Mediation?


Successful family mediation depends upon the close cooperation of the clients and the support of their legal advisor or family solicitor. It is important to be aware that not all family solicitors or legal advisors support the practice of family mediation, but there are some solicitors who encourage and support family mediation and who are willing to work alongside the family mediation process


What are the benefits of family mediation?


Family mediation is by far the most cost effective way of coming to an agreement with the other person, rather than going to the family court or through legal channels. It does away with any unnecessary and expensive ‘toing and froing’ between both sets of solicitors during the negotiation stage. Click here to see more benefits of family mediation.


It is important to remember that if you have been assessed as being eligible for Legal Aid/ Public Funding, then in addition to getting FREE Family Mediation you will also be able to have a number of hours FREE consultation time with a Solicitor.


What happens if I already have a date to go to Court. Can I mediate before I go to Court?


Yes you can mediate before you go to Court and it is strongly advisable that you try family mediation before you go to Court. If you have a Court date pending then you will have already been to a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) and found out about how mediation can help to resolve your family dispute. During this mediation meeting, you will have been assessed by a Family Mediator for Legal Aid, found out about what family mediation is and how family mediation can help you, been given the options that are open to you and had the relevant Family Court forms signed by an accredited family mediator.

If you both decide that you want to mediate and you already have a Court date, you should inform the Court that you are attending family mediation; the Courts want people to try family mediation first, so they will look at this in a very positive light. The Court may then postpone the date of the hearing to enable you to attend family mediation. Click HERE to find out what a Kent Family Judge thinks about family mediation.

If you go to Court having only attended a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)and you have not been through the family mediation process, then it is worth remembering that the Judge may still make an Order for you to attend family mediation, as family mediation is the Courts and the Judges preferred way of resolving family disputes. 
On 22 April 2014, there was a new Court ruling that people must attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) with an accredited family mediator * before they are able to submit an application to go to court. *with the exception of certain cases of evidenced domestic violence.

How should I choose a Solicitor


You should choose your solicitor carefully, ensure that you are fully aware of the fees that they will charge you and that you have chosen the right family solicitor to deal with your divorce case, child contact dispute or family separation dispute. Click HERE for a list of Kent solicitors that are willing to work with family mediation clients. 

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