Founded in 1999, Mediation First has helped thousands of clients to resolve issues arising from separation or divorce. We are specialists in family mediation and are committed to providing an expert and friendly service that helps to ease the financial and emotional pain of separation and divorce.
When you work with our mediators, they will listen carefully and try and understand your situation. They will help you to make informed decisions about your future and encourage a dialogue between you and your ex. Please be clear there are no winners or losers, no blaming, no findings of fact or judgements about who is right or wrong. You will not be told what you should or should not do. Our aim is to help clients to to work together to find sustainable solutions and thereby avoid the need for potentially lengthy and costly negotiations via solicitors or contested Court proceedings.
Most people mediating at Mediation First resolve their issues within just 1-3 meetings of around 90 minutes each. By contrast, a National Audit Report recently found that most cases negotiated through solicitors and the Courts will take around 12-18 months to resolve.
The first step is to come and meet with a mediator for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). In the MIAM the mediator will discuss your situation with you and help you to identify your options. The mediator will talk to you about family mediation and consider whether it is likely to be helpful and appropriate for you. The mediator cannot advise you but can give you legal and pratical information and help you to make an informed decision about how best to proceed.
Following the MIAM, the mediator can contact your ex and invite them to attend a separate MIAM. If your ex attends a MIAM and decides to mediate, and assuming it is safe and appropriate to proceed, we will arrange a first mediation session. Usually, the mediation process involves both clients being present in the same room as the mediator. However, if required, we can arrange for both of you to sit in separate rooms. This known as 'shuttle' mediation.
In the mediation sessions, the mediator ecourages clients to follow a process whereby the issues that you want to discuss are identified, consider your options and reach resolutions. to make decisions together by encouraging you both to share information, to listen and to be listened to.
If you are intending to make an application to Court concerning arrangements for children or finances on divorce you need to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) within four months of making the application unless a relevant exemption applies. Information about MIAM exemptions can be found on the Family Mediation Council's website.
Legal aid is potentially available for mediation if you can prove financial eligibility and provide the required evidence.
Eligibility for legal aid for family mediation is assessed on 1) the capital a person has (i.e. property, savings & etc) and 2) the income a person has.
The fact that you own a property does not stop you from being eligible for legal aid.
If you receive certain income based benefits (see below) you will automatically qualify for legal aid for family mediation on the income test. The income based benefits are currently: income based Jobseekers Allowance; income related Employment & Support Allowance; Income Support; and Universal Credit.
Even if you do not receive any of the above income based benefits, you may still be eligible for legal aid for family mediation! The mediator will need to take a more detailed look at your income (and that of any partner with whom you are cohabiting) and outgoings for the last calendar month and will need to see evidence in this respect.
Evidence required: bank statements from the last calendar month, latest letter from benefits department, latest wages slip. N.B. Bank statements need to be printed and must be for the entire calendar month up and including the day of your appointment - i.e. you will eitehr need to print off bank statements from your online banking or will need to visit you bank on the day of the appointment to request copies of bank statements or transaction reports.
There are several options as to how this can be done and these options will be considered as part of the mediation process. For instance, some people may want a solicitor to incorporate their mediated financial plans in a Separation Deed; some might want to ask the Court to make a Consent Order alongside the divorce; some might ask their solicitors to exchange letters confirming that the parties treat themselves as legally bound or some draw up their own paperwork/letters. It is now also possible to ask the court to make orders by consent regarding plans for children.
The fees for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) are £150 (inclusive of VAT). The MIAM usually lasts between 45-60 minutes. The fees for family mediation are £150 (inclusive of VAT) per person per hour.
Please note that from April 2018 there will be a change to our pricing as follows: Family mediation sessions will be £175 (inclusive of VAT) for up to 90 minutes and will include the costs of a session note (that will be emailed to clients within one week of the session).
The MIAM usually takes between 45 to 60 minutes.
Mediation sessions usually last between 60 minutes to 90 minutes and clients generally attend 1 to 3 mediation sessions.
This service has strong professional links with other well established mediation services around the country, see the following links:
EXETER AND SOUTWEST: www.southwestmediation.co.uk
MANCHESTER and CHESHIRE: www.familymediationmanchester.co.uk
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