There are a number of aspects in divorce and separation with which people may have to deal – emotional, psychological, social, financial and often legal. Mediation can help find a way through a tangle of concerns and this section explains a little more about how it might do this from the perspective of legal issues.
Mediators and solicitors
- A mediator may provide information about the broad principles of law relevant in a situation. This information can be offered at individual appointments or to people jointly and is presented in language that can be easily understood. This information can help in considering options about what might be possible or about other sources of help that may be available.
- Helped by the mediator, discussions and negotiations take place directly between the parties and not between solicitors. This results in much reduced costs and a less adversarial approach to reaching decisions. A mediator cannot give legal advice because this would jeopardise the impartiality of the mediator.
- A solicitor gives legal advice but can only represent the interests of one client. They can advise their client before, during and after mediation.
- Decisions and joint proposals reached in mediation are drawn up in a document at the conclusion of mediation but this is not legally binding. The document can be used by the solicitors to produce a legally binding agreement if required.
- Many couples mediating only about child issues reach agreement without looking for legal advice in addition.
- Mediation clients making decisions on financial issues are always recommended to have legal advice and to proceed to a legally binding agreement so that matters can be finalised.
........NEWS....May 2013....Legal Aid is still available for free mediation............................................................
Mediation and the Statutory Charge
Public funding from the Legal Aid Agency for mediation is available to those financially eligible. An assessment is made at a client's first appointment with their mediator. A client is never liable to repay any mediation costs to the Agency. An eligible client is also able to have some free legal advice from a Legal Aid Agency contracted solicitor (known as 'Help with Family Mediation') to support them during mediation and to draw up the proposals as a legally binding document.
This is a real financial incentive for people to mediate and not to waste money on expensive legal fees or to worry about incurring a debt which has to be repaid in the future with interest.
........NEWS....May 2013....Legal Aid is still available for free mediation.....................
Confidentiality and legal privilege
The discussions that take place in mediation are
confidential and in addition cannot be referred
to in any court proceedings about the same issues.
This protection helps people to discuss matters
creatively and positively and explore different
solutions freely before deciding what is best.
Even then the outcome of mediation remains confidential
unless or until it is converted into a legally
binding agreement after legal advice has been
However, if concerns are raised about the safety
of a person, particularly a child, the mediator
must override the general requirement of confidentiality.