Direct Mediation Services

Legal Aid for family mediation

Free Legal Aid for mediation services

Costs can be a barrier for people who are finding it difficult to resolve their disputes. Court costs and solicitor fees can become very high, very quickly. Mediation, whilst cheaper, may still incur costs.

Direct Mediation Services are contracted with the Legal Aid Agency, which means that we can provide our services fully funded to those who qualify for Legal Aid. Our work is overseen by the Legal Aid Agency, who ensure that we offer our best services to you without the need to pay.

Do I qualify for Legal Aid Family Mediation?

Legal Aid is “means tested”, which means it looks at your income. There are two types of Legal Aid that you can apply for:

  • Based on receipt of a qualifying benefit; or
  • Based on low income.

If you are unsure, you can check if you qualify for Legal Aid.

Generally you will qualify for Legal Aid if you receive one of the following below. To start your application, click on the link that corresponds to your situation:

Or if you have a low income you will need to show that you have disposable income of less than £733 per month.

How to get Legal Aid for mediation?

You will need to provide evidence to support your application. If you are applying due to receiving a qualifying benefit, you will need to submit evidence of this. For Universal Credit, a screenshot of your most recent payment will be sufficient, so long as it shows your full name, address and the date you have received this funding. Please check the example of a screenshot of a Universal Credit payment below:

Universal Credit to apply for Legal Aid

If you receive another benefit, you should provide an award letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that shows your current award of benefit.

If you are applying based on low income, you will need to provide evidence of your payslips and bank statements, which show your income.

IMPORTANT: Whether you are applying for Legal Aid mediation based on benefits or low income, this will be “aggregated” if you live with your partner. This means that the household income will be taken into account. If you receive joint Universal Credit, this will also be considered. However, if you live with your partner and they are not the other participant at mediation, then this will not apply.

There is also a test based on your capital. At Direct Mediation Services, our expert team will do this for you based on a questionnaire that you complete. They may get in touch with you, if they have any questions about your application. The capital test mainly looks at your property, your savings, any investments, and any valuables that you may own.

Often our largest asset is our property. For the purposes of the Legal Aid application, only the first £100,000 of your mortgage will be considered. Additionally, if you are coming to mediation to discuss finances, then there will be a disregard of £100,000 for the Subject Matter of Dispute (SMOD).

Just because you receive a particular benefit or are on a low income, you may not qualify for Legal Aid if you have a sizeable asset; this is based on the rules set by the Legal Aid Agency. If you are unsure on this, you can contact the office and speak to our Legal Aid expert, Dr. Dorian Ramirez Sosa, on 0113 468 9593.

What does Legal Aid family mediation cover in the UK?

If your Legal Aid application is successful, then you will receive fully funded mediation throughout the process. You will not need to pay any costs. Your Legal Aid will also cover the costs for the other participant’s Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and partial costs of mediation.

Conclusion

We are pleased to be able to offer our services free of charge to those who qualify for Legal Aid. Whilst the Legal Aid Agency continue to pay us the same fees for the last 20 years, we think it is important that our services are accessible and available to those who need it. If you, or someone you know is struggling to access mediation due to limited finances, we are able to provide information and support over the phone (0113 468 9593) or via email: info@directmediationservices.co.uk

If you are unsure if mediation is right for you, you can read more about mediation. Don’t forget, if mediation does not go ahead for you and you wish to apply to the Court, you can still get support paying your court fees.

Book an online MIAM

We offer an online MIAM appointment within 48 hours of booking, or even sooner. This includes options for scheduling during lunch breaks or before your children need to be picked up from school.

family mediation

Questions about Legal Aid for family mediation

You could qualify for Legal Aid mediation if you receive a qualifying benefit such as Universal Credit or low income.

The threshold set by the Legal Aid Agency for low income is a disposable income of less than £733 per month.

If you are applying for Legal Aid because you receive a benefit you will need to show your award letter, or if you receive Universal Credit, a screenshot of your entitlement is sufficient. However it must show your name, address and date of payment. For low income applicants, you will need to submit your bank statements and pay slips for the last 30 days.

If you qualify for Legal Aid funding it will be for the duration of the mediation process. Your Legal Aid will cover also some mediation costs for your ex-partner, unless they qualify for Legal Aid in their own right. In this situation, you could consider using the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme (information of which can be found on our website).

In these circumstances you can still receive the funding for your MIAM and some mediation. You will need to pay our fixed fee of £130 for the MIAM initially, which will then be refunded should the other participant accepts the invitation to mediate and be successful for Legal Aid.

The easiest way is for the person who qualifies for Legal Aid to come to mediation first. If you are able to communicate with the other participant before coming to mediation, it can be useful to ask them to come first so that the funding is available from the outset.

A good thing to remember is the recent introduction of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme if you do not qualify for Legal Aid. The voucher scheme is available for anyone who is coming to mediation to discuss children. It does not apply in financial only cases. It will provide a sum of £500 toward the costs of joint mediation.

MIAM meeting: choose your best option

Book an online MIAM

Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00

We offer an online MIAM appointment within 48 hours of booking, or even sooner. This includes options for scheduling during lunch breaks or before your children need to be picked up from school.

Same day and/or out of office hours

Apply a fast track MIAM

We recognize the urgency sometimes associated with obtaining the MIAM certificate promptly for court application purposes. Hence, we provide an express service to cater to such needs in only one hour.