Legal Aid is still available for family mediation. That means that if you are on a low income and have limited savings(less than £8000) then all the costs of your mediation will be met by the government.
Legal Aid – how eligibility is calculated?
It may be worth you doing some rough calculations yourself to see if you might qualify for legal aid. If you do want to go ahead with our service, we will need the documents listed on this leaflet before we meet with you.
You will automatically qualify if you receive what is termed a “passported benefit” i.e. Income Support, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, Guaranteed Pension Credit or Universal Credit.
Otherwise you need to add up all of your income from any source and then take off various allowances.
The main allowable expenditure is £296.65 per child (if living with you), £184.46 for any partner living with you, housing costs which are rent or mortgage only (minus any Housing Benefit, and capped at £545 if no children living with you), child care costs associated with work, any child support payments you are making, and a standard employment allowance of £45.
If you want to do some rough calculations yourself you would essentially:-
- Add up all your income on a monthly basis (pay, tax credits, child support payments, child benefit) for you and your partner if living together
- Your combined gross income needs to be £2657 or less
- Then take off allowances as listed above, including tax and national insurance paid and see if this is £733 or less per month
You also need to have savings of less than £8,000.
If you want the first meeting to be free you must send us information about your finances in advance so that we can assess you for Legal Aid. See the Legal Aid Information Sheet. This will included wage slips, bank statements, letters re:benefits and proof of rent or mortgage.
What about legal costs if I agree in mediation
There is some legal aid still available for a solicitor to draw up documents such as a consent order if the matters have been agreed in mediation and you qualify on financial grounds. Ask your mediator about this at the end of the session . They will complete a form called a CW5 Help With Mediation for you to take to your chosen solicitor.
Legal Aid for a lawyer to represent you at court
This is more limited than it used to be and is not generally available unless you are a victim of domestic violence or your child is at risk of abuse from your ex-partner. The link below explains this in more detail.
It therefore generally makes sense to try mediation first in terms of cost and speed.