Following the introduction of the Family Court on 22 April 2014 mediation is compulsory for many more married and unmarried couples dealing with separation. The withdrawal of legal aid has left many unable to afford access to legal advice at a time when they need it most. Lawyer–Supported Mediation launched in the Manchester and Stockport region on 28 April 2014. It is hoped this new tailored service will help to ensure that legal advice is affordable for more families who have separated and a result in resolution of their dispute that, in many cases, may be quicker than court proceedings.
The Family Court has already seen a huge increase in litigants in person, at present in approximately half of all cases involving children at least one party is unrepresented. Mediation is one way of keeping disputes out of court. The process should help to diffuse conflict and enable parties to reach an agreement. Part of a mediator’s role is to guide the parties away from the animosity of the dispute and assisting them to resolve their problem by agreement. Mediation is most effective where both parties have access to legal advice, so each party is advised on the law and can appreciate the range of likely outcomes that a court could order. A mediator cannot give legal advice to either party.
In a staged process with regular access to both independent legal advice balanced with intermittent fixed fees Lawyer-Supported Mediation brings a new offering to SAS Daniels’ unique pricing options, enabling our clients to benefit from an end-to-end service providing expert fixed fee legal advice along with mediation. This should ensure that our clients have the benefit of regular advice between the mediation sessions to ensure any final settlement is in their best interests and enforceable.
We are very excited to be involved in this pilot and hope that it will be successful in bringing legal advice to many families who may have previously believed legal advice to be beyond their budget.
For more information on Lawyer–Supported Mediation or other aspects of family law please contact our Family team, on 0161 475 7624.