Who pays for family mediation?
Ok, so who pays for family mediation?
Family mediation is an important part of the post-separation process in supporting you and your ex-partner through changes such as the restructuring of your family and financial commitments. Mediation offers the opportunity for everyone to express their wishes and feelings. A trained mediator will assist you to communicate effectively and come to agreements that you can all live with. This is an alternative to using the courts, which is often a pricey and time-consuming process as compared to mediation.
Unless you qualify for Legal Aid, you will have to pay costs for mediation. Separation and divorce is a stressful time and money can often be tight, only creating more worry and concern. Unfortunately, costs are involved in any legal process and you must make decisions that are right for your family, especially when there are children involved. For example, you and your ex-partner will need to agree on the division of finances and property, as well as child arrangements. Mediation is well suited to support you through making these agreements and arrangements.
This article will discuss the costs aspect of mediation, the options available to you and advice on how to go about managing your finances during the separation process. It is hoped that this article will provide you with a better understanding and make the process far less daunting – we are here to help.
Should I use a solicitor or mediator?
As the separation/divorce process is a legal process, a usual first step to take is to seek legal advice through a solicitor. We understand that solicitors can be expensive, but this should not stop you from getting legal advice, as many solicitors do give free 30-minute consultations, which may help resolve a specific issue. It is paramount that you understand your legal rights and are advised on the court process, the issues involved and the law. Legal advice is necessary where you are seeking to create legally binding arrangement with regard to finances or children.
Mediation cannot offer you any legal advice, but can give you legal information and answer questions about the legal process. Mediators are not trained lawyers – whilst we have good understanding of the law and know how it operates, we are not insured to advise you. We will always provide you with the utmost support within our capacity.
Direct Mediation Services (DMS) have links with pro-mediation solicitors who are available to provide 30 minutes of free advice before any costs are incurred. This will allow you to understand your rights and options prior to making any payments. They will be able to run you through the legal process and assess what they consider to be necessary in your case. You can ask DMS for their list of solicitors that they work with across England and Wales.
Of course, you could choose to proceed with a solicitor throughout legal proceedings and not engage in a full mediation process. However, bear in mind you will need to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAM) regardless. The MIAM is a first point of call in any family related dispute to try and resolve any disagreements outside court. This is not for everyone and there are exceptions to this requirement such as the presence of domestic abuse or unco-operative ex partners.
It is useful to compare costs of mediation, as compared to the costs of solicitors to work out which option is best for you and is the most financially efficient. The Office of National Statistics published figures regarding the general savings of mediation. The average cost for mediation per person was £675; however, the average cost per person to go to court was £2148, which means that there was a saving of £2148. Finding the best solution for you and your family can make the separation process much less difficult.
Ok, tell me what are the costs of mediation?
As stated above, unless you qualify for Legal Aid you will have to pay privately for mediation. Legal Aid can provide you with financial support and ultimately pay the mediation costs for you, but this is subject to rather strict eligibility requirements. Understanding your eligibility can be a struggle, but please remember that support is available to you and you are not alone. Support Through Court is a charity that can support you through the court process. Volunteers can offer you support in claiming legal aid, as well as through the court process generally; such as in relation to form filling, emotional support and guidance around the court building.
You can check your eligibility for Legal Aid and help with fees here.
If you are deemed ineligible for legal aid/help with fees, you will have to pay privately. Costs of mediation vary. At DMS we have a flat rate of £120 per person per hour for private clients, so you are able to understand and budget your finances to fit in with mediation obligations. This payment is always made before the session begins and can be paid by either your debit/credit card or bank transfer. We are not able to accept payment for mediation services after the mediation session.
Whilst the £120 covers the mediation session, there may be further additional costs such as where a Parenting Plan is drafted, or an Open Financial Statement followed by a Memorandum of Understanding. All of this can be discussed with your mediator who will assist you to understand the costs specific to your case. You will not be charged without a cost being discussed with you before.
If you fail to qualify for Legal Aid, you still may be able to get help if your ex-partner does qualify. Where one party qualifies for Legal Aid, we are able to offer the MIAM free of charge, as well as the first hour of joint mediation. We have secured a Legal Aid contract enabling us to do this, to try and take the financial strain out of the situation so far as is possible. If you are struggling, you may be able to negotiate the mediation payments with your ex-partner as occasionally people choose to prioritise mediation over court proceedings for it is ultimately far cheaper. Understandably however, this is not for everyone.
In any case, we would recommend that you examine your finances and establish what you can and cannot afford throughout the process. Your mediator, should you decide to go ahead with mediation, will be able to support you as to financial arrangements and assist you in devising an efficient financial budget.
What about other costs?
Alongside the cost of mediation, there will be court fees involved. Common court fees associated with family disputes include:
- Divorce applications which carry a cost of £550.
- A Child Arrangements Order which costs £215.
- Financial Consent Orders which include a £50 fee.
Again, these are prices that add to the financial stress associated with separation. But you can get help! If you do not qualify, however, our trained mediators will be able to assist you in working out how to pay these fees in a way that is right for you.
The financial aspect of mediation alongside the legal process itself can cause great stress, but please know that you are not alone.
Who pays these costs?
A common question that arises in relation to fees is who pays for the legal/mediation costs – is it you or your ex-partner? Ultimately, this is down to you. You and your ex-partner can decide to split all costs equally and fairly, but we know this can be difficult and is not always the case.
Essentially, whoever applies to the court for divorce, or for a C100 child arrangements form (for example), will have to pay the costs of that application. As for mediation, each party will have to pay their own £120 fee for the process. You are only responsible for paying for your own fee. We would recommend attempting to settle financial costs with your ex-partner where this is possible. However, this is not always the case. Please know that your mediator will assist you in this regard.
Again, however, should you qualify for legal aid/help with fees, the costs of divorce applications, C100 applications or other court forms can be waivered. You can apply for help with fees using the this form and there is support available to you to complete this application, such as Support Through Court.
OK, what are the next steps?
Now that you have gained a better understanding of the costs involved in the separation/divorce process in relation to mediation, you may be feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. The costs associated with the process are daunting. This section sets out the following steps that you should now take to assist you in going ahead with separation and mediation.
The first step is to plan your finances in relation to the potential incurred costs associated with divorce, separation, court proceedings and mediation. This article can provide you with some idea, but you may wish to gain further information. You can find information on costs of the various court processes online. If you need further support – you can seek help from DMS, Support Through Court or a free 30-minute consultation with a solicitor.
See if you qualify for Legal Aid. The financial burdens associated with this process can be greatly ameliorated by gaining support from legal aid – the support is there, so see if you are eligible. It can take a great strain of the financial burden. DMS has a number of webpages that give really helpful information.
If possible, discuss costs with your ex-partner. See if there is any willing compromise to share the costs. If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, see if your ex-partner does as this can still waiver some of the costs associated with mediation.
It is a positive to go ahead with mediation, but you need to be mindful of the financial costs if privately funded. Your mediator can help you financially plan, so that you can budget to afford the service. Many people who attend mediation resolve their issues within two or three sessions (a session is usually an hour).
Direct Mediation Services – 0113 4689593
Support Through Court – 0113 306 2764
Frequently Asked Questions
My ex asked for mediation, so why do I have to pay?
If you are invited to mediation, it is expected that you will pay for your fees, unless you are eligible for Legal Aid or your ex-partner has offered to pay for it.
What is cheaper a solicitor or a mediator?
Mediation is normally much cheaper, as there are not two sets of fees. On average solicitors’ fees can range from about £200 to £350 per hour and a mediator fees are usually around £120 per hour.
Are there any additional costs in mediation?
It is always important to talk about costs at the beginning of the mediation process, because if you do come to an agreement, there will be additional charges for writing up documents, such as Memorandum of Understandings for finance cases and Parenting Plans for cases concerning children.
When do I have to pay my mediator fees?
Most mediators will ask for payment at the time of booking or at the beginning of the mediation session.
So many people who separate or divorce do not think about family mediation and go directly to a family lawyer’s office. You may wish to consider talking with an accredited mediator to see if the mediation process could help you and your family, instead of lengthy and costly legal action. By going to a family mediator there is the possibility that you could reduce your costs and shorten the painful process without the need of going to court.
We are a multi award-winning firm with family mediators who are experienced and accredited by the Family Mediation Council.
Family mediation starts with a MIAM (Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting), which is priced at £120 (including VAT). This is a meeting (online or in person) you attend with a mediator and talk about the issues you are facing. With our firm the cost per hour per person remains the same if you go to a mediation session with your ex.
The feedback we have received from people who have used our services has been very positive. We are confident that family mediation will be a good starting point in trying to find a solution.
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Direct Mediation Services
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