Legal Aid For Family Mediation
What Does Legal Aid Cover?
- If you qualify for legal aid, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will pay all of your mediation fees and for the cost of the mediator writing up any outcome documents.
- If only one of you qualifies for legal aid and the other doesn’t, you will both still benefit because the LAA will pay for both of your initial assessment meetings and for the first joint meeting. This is as part of a Ministry of Justice scheme to give people an incentive to use alternative dispute resolution services, rather than going to court.
- After mediation, the person or persons that are eligible for legal aid can also apply for legal help from a solicitor in order to get advice on their proposals and have them made legally binding.
Are You Eligible for Legal Aid?
- If you are on benefits, a low income or have high outgoings you may qualify for legal aid.
- The only way to be properly assessed for Legal Aid for mediation is to supply your family mediator with evidence of your income and outgoings. This information is used to do a calculation that is prescribed by the LAA and therefore the mediator has no discretion over the outcome of these calculations. This eligibility check normally takes place at the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM.)
- To get a preliminary indication of whether you are likely to be eligible for Legal Aid, you can enter your details into the online calculator: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid. Please note that the outcome of the calculator does not guarantee Legal Aid eligibility.
- You can also call us and we can give you a rough indication of your legal aid eligibility over the phone.
- To evidence your income and expenditure you will be asked to provide your mediator with documents such as bank statements, letters relating to benefits and/or payslips. We will discuss this with you on the phone before your appointment so you are clear about what you need to bring. We also send you an email outlining the evidence required, to help you remember.
You can do a preliminary check to see whether you are likely to be eligible for legal aid by using the online calculator at: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid >
Please be aware that a comprehensive eligibility check can only be carried out by a qualified Family Mediator, who has access to all of the required documents. If you are not eligible for legal aid, mediation is still usually cheaper and quicker than going to court. There are also many other benefits in terms of reducing the antagonism that divorce litigation or going to court may create, and starting to build a new relationship based on co-parenting and co-operation