Can I get Legal Aid to cover Family Mediation Costs?

Legal Aid UK

Glynne Davies Family Mediator

In this interview (scroll down), Family Mediator Glynne Davies, speaks of the divorce process UK and how legal aid can help those unable to afford the costs of the divorce proceedings.

When wondering how to get a divorce, you may want to consider family mediation.

Glynne answers the following questions:

  • Is legal aid still available for family mediation when going through a divorce?

Yes.   It is but not subject to any domestic abuse criteria. It’s simply a question of whether someone is financially eligible for legal aid.

  • At what point does one become eligible for legal aid?

There are two thresholds:

Capital threshold and Income threshold.

Capital threshold takes into account the value of equity in the family home as well as savings and valuable possessions. If you pass that capital threshold then you go on to look at the income threshold which includes looking at any benefits you may get getting.  If you are on what’s called a passported benefit – which is income related, job seekers allowance, ESA or guaranteed pension credit, then provided you’ve passed the capital threshold, you are passported through and will automatically make you eligible for legal aid.

If you are not on a passported benefit, then there needs to be a calculation done of your gross monthly income, any allowances that you might have that can be deducted from that, such as housing costs, children’s dependent allowances and the magical figure that you’re looking for is £733 at the end of that.

  • Does it cover both financial issues and children issues?

It covers both aspects. It covers anything that could be made into an application to the court under a family law remit.

  • What is legal aid?

For the purposes of mediation, it covers all costs that would be associated with the mediation process. Family mediators get a pot of money from the legal aid agency that covers the Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the mediation sessions and the preparation of documents as an outcome of that mediation

  • What if only one of you is eligible?

If the eligible person comes in first, so that when you see the second person for a MIAM, you already know that one person is eligible or if they come in together, and you assess the first person as eligible, then the other person, gets the MIAM meeting totally free of charge and also gets the first session totally free of charge.

This can be very helpful when talking about children’s issues or arrangements for the children because although most financial or all issues mediations take several sessions, it’s quite common for children’s issues mediation to be resolved or largely resolved in that first session.

So you could end up with a person that’s not eligible, they could even be a multi-millionaire, they would still qualify for that free first session and that could mean that both parties would have free mediation that could possibly be resolved in that first session. A big caveat, that’s relating to children’s issues only.

Other questions answered include:

  • What proof do I need to bring to show that your entitled to legal aid?
  • What is a MIAM and what role does it play in family mediation?
  • What do I need to bring to the MIAMS meeting?

Glynne Davies has been a fully accredited Family Mediator since 2004. She became a Professional Practice Consultant in 2009, and a member of the Local Family Justice board since 2010.

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