Legal Profession Putting Out Misleading News About Legal Aid for Mediation

Mediation is still available through legal aid

Despite the misleading news by the legal profession, legal aid is still available for mediation.

Misreporting by The Guardian, Misreporting by BBC, Misreporting by National Family Mediation,
Misleading article by law society gazette

Many couples going through a separation may be completely unaware that Legal Aid is in fact still available (depending upon their financial circumstances) for people who wish to take part in mediation.
Peter Flint, senior partner and head of the family department at law firm Lanyon Bowdler.
Mediation is an excellent way of resolving issues which arise once a relationship has broken down. It can be used to sort out arrangements for children, to assist parents in re-establishing communication with each other (for the benefit of the children), can resolve the financial issues arising out of the breakdown of the relationship, and so forth. Mediation is an alternative to having issues resolved by a Court, and at present it is a voluntary procedure involving the couple having a meeting or a series of meetings with a mediator whose job it is to work with the couple and assist them in resolving the various issues by agreement. Unlike Court proceedings, the decision making process lies not with the Judge but rather with the clients themselves.

Peter Flint, a highly experienced family mediator and solicitor with Shrewsbury law firm Lanyon Bowdler comments “A most unfortunate and possibly unforeseen consequence of the Government cuts in the availability of Legal Aid in family cases has been the dramatic reduction in estranged couples attempting to resolve their issues by agreement through the medium of mediation.

“Because of the significant reduction in mediation work, the last few months has seen a number of mediation services having to discontinue their businesses. These have included Mediation Works, a not for profit organisation operating in Shropshire and a number of other areas; and also the offices of National Family Mediation in Worcester and Hereford.”

Peter concludes “This may be due to the fact that family lawyers also have seen a reduction in their business as a result of the Legal Aid cuts and are therefore neglecting their duty to advise their clients of the mediation option for fear of losing the business. More likely is that people cannot afford to do so they are not consulting solicitors, but rather are attempting to deal with matters themselves via the Court process, when in fact Legal Aid is still available (depending upon their financial circumstances) for people who wish to take part in mediation.”

8 Ways to Protect Children During Divorce

1) Before you divorce try marriage Counselling. If there is any chance of saving the marriage then go for it. Children fare best inside a complete unbroken family.

2) Wait until the children are mature enough to cope with your divorce. Sometimes just plodding on for a few years with the marriage can protect the children. Older children cope better with divorce than younger ones.

3) Try to come to agreement with your spouse on what should happen in the divorce. This includes finances, property, where you should live and when the children visit the other parent. This is an ongoing process and will mean having an ongoing dialogue with your ex. If ever the discussion starts to get heated break it off and come back to it another day.

4) Try mediation as an amicable or haggling alternative to family court. Remember Family court is a very expensive way to settle disputes about family and finances. Even if you cannot agree on everything in mediation it is well worth finding out on what you do agree on and only taking what you don’t agree on to court. It is far better to agree to something that you slightly don’t like than trying to get everything that you want through the court. If you do go to court do your utmost best not to use it as a forum to take out revenge on your ex.

5) Don’t involve the children in the divorce. During the separation, focus your efforts on enjoying your time with the children and put out of mind what happens in the other household when the children are not with you. It is natural to worry about what is happening to the children when not in your care. But you must put aside your concerns especially in the weeks and months straight after separation. It will take a few months for you, your ex and the children to settle down in the new reality. A “matter of fact” and “getting on with it” attitude can help a  lot during this time. As angry as you may be with your ex, those feelings shouldn’t be shared with the children directly or indirectly. These types of mixed love hate feelings are psychologically damaging to children.

6) Try therapy. Having a quiet, discreet person to offload your anger to could help you through this most difficult time.

7) Take care of yourself. Pamper yourself. Keep pushing yourself to meet up with friends. Eat properly. Keep an eye on any addiction that may creep in. Take a mini break. Visit relatives. Do something that takes your mind off the divorce.

8) Talk to the children positively. Children often blame themselves for the divorce. Keep emphasising that it is not their fault. Also avoid blaming your ex in front of the children. Talk positively about your ex in front of the children. This is the best way. Not the easiest way but the best way. Don’t argue in front of the children this is very damaging. Do not try to test the children’s loyalty to you against your ex. This is very damaging also. Forcing them to choose between the two parents is very damaging to them. Your children do not want to be forced to chose.