What is Legally Aided mediation?
Legal aid is payment from public funds to help pay for services such as family mediation when you have a dispute about children finances or property that may end up in court. For more information about legal aid use this link
If you are on a low income, Legal Aid can provide funding to cover the cost of mediation. If you are eligible, then Legal Aid will cover all your individual mediation costs plus the initial appointment and first mediation meeting cost for the other person if they are not eligible in their own right.
What Mediation Cases are Funded?
At your initial appointment (the MIAM) the mediator will spend time discussing what issues need resolving in mediation. Not every kind of family mediation case is eligible for funding from Legal Aid. Examples of cases the Legal Aid Agency would consider eligible are:
- You are getting divorced and need to sort out financial arrangements
- Child arrangements have broken down and you are not seeing your children
How do I Get Legal Aid for Mediation?
The mediator will complete a form called a CIVMEANS7 at your initial MIAM meeting, which you will then sign and date. This helps us calculate your income and outgoings – documents confirming your income need to be brought to your meeting and attached to the form.
As a guide, you may be eligible if:
- You receive Income Support, Universal Credit, income based JSA, income based ESA, Pension Guarantee Credit
- You live on your own and your household income is less than £17,000 p.a.
- You live with a partner and/or dependent children and your household income is less than £21,000 p.a.
We usually require pre-payment for all our meetings – please see the separate page setting out fees and payment terms. Once your Legal Aid assessment is complete, if you are eligible we will refund your fee – in most instances this is the full amount you paid prior to your assessment.
We make no up-front charges if you receive one of the income based benefits set out below – simply send the income evidence required for your assessment to FREEPOST, NATIONAL FAMILY MEDIATION or email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Income Support
- Income Based JSA
- Income Based ESA
- Universal Credit
- Guarantee Credit
The mediator will do the calculation based on your income in the month up to the date of your assessment, so we will need paperwork covering that period – if you are unable to provide this we may not be able to complete the assessment.
If you currently have a partner and you live together, we will need information about their income too, as set out below.
If you are employed:
1. Your most recent payslip(s) – bring payslips covering a whole month if you are paid weekly
2. Bank statement(s) – each account money you live on is paid into (salary, benefits, business or other income)
3. Your most recent letter confirming the amount of Tax credits you receive.
If you are self employed or own a business:
1. Bank statement(s) – each account money you live on is paid into (salary, benefits, business or other income)
2. Your most recent letter confirming the amount of Tax credits you receive
3. Invoice/cash book or working accounts
4. Latest self-assessment tax return or latest audited accounts
If you receive an income based benefit:
Benefit notification or most recent letter notifying a change in benefit amount. The letter must be less than six months old and state which benefit you receive.
If your letter is more than six months old then please also send your most recent bank statement, which will show that your benefit is still in payment
Ask the DWP or Jobcentre Plus to provide you with a letter confirming you are still in receipt of your benefit.
We will also need information about your rent / mortgage payments, payments you are making for child care and any savings or investments you have.
If you own your home you will need to have a rough idea of its current value and the amount of equity/mortgage you have.
If you receive child support or spousal maintenance this also counts as income, even if the payment is by way of direct payments for bills, rent or mortgage.
We also need to take account of any financial help given by friends and relatives.
We will keep a copy of any documents provided and return the originals to you.
Audit of Files
Our files are kept for six years and the Legal Aid Agency may ask to audit legally aided cases at any point during that time to ensure that our paperwork and office processes are in order.