Since April 2013 Legal Aid was withdrawn from solicitors except where there was proven Domestic Abuse or in Care proceedings. Until then parties wishing to apply for legal aid had to be referred to a mediation service to show they had, at least, explored mediation as an alternative to the Court process before they could even apply for Legal Aid. Now that process no longer happens and as a result there has been a drop of more than 50% in parties attending an initial Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) just to find out about it and consequential drop in those trying to resolve matters for themselves through mediation rather than issue Court proceedings where there has been an increase in people issuing applications themselves without recourse to a solicitor.
It appears that it is not widely known enough that Legal Aid does remain available for mediation. It remains means tested but for those on certain benefits such as Income Support or JSA (Income Based) this is a passport to Legal Aid and even those in work can be entitled once housing costs, tax & NI and children are taken into account.
Accord offers mediation across Cornwall, Devon and the South West, and Legal Aid to help with the costs where eligible, so there is no need to shy away from approaching a helpful and friendly service where we can assist both parties through the difficulties that arise on separation and you do not need to see a solicitor first. So please contact us to find out more.*