A court of appeal judge has said that she is “horrified” at the number of unrepresented litigants in Family Law cases and warned that the delays caused will “clog up” the justice system.
According to the Family Law organisation Resolution, at least two-thirds of cases working their way through the Family Law courts now involve one side who has no lawyer to provide help. This is in part due to the cut backs in legal aid and expense of employing a lawyer for court proceedings.
In the first nine months since the cuts came into force, just over 50,400 of the 88,300 parents involved in Family Law court cases relating to children in England and Wales had no legal representation, almost six out of 10.
Some cases stand out, such as a recent case where an illiterate mother of four, with poor sight and hearing, was forced to represent herself in a court hearing over the custody of her children. In the case she was facing two advocates although it settled by agreement in August after she received some legal advice pro bono from a clerk at a solicitor’s office, Cygnet Law, local to her in Middlesbrough.
Family Mediation, which is much less expensive, offers an alternative to court proceedings. Here at Slater and Gordon, the first contact with the mediator is free. We then charge £89 plus vat each or £130 plus vat per couple for the MIAM and £150 plus vat per hour each for the mediation sessions plus an admin fee of £75 plus vat each for each session for drawing up the minutes. We charge a final fee of £150 plus vat each for preparing the final documentation, the summaries. This is a rate that is less than most Family Lawyers and certainly those with our mediators’ experience.
It usually takes a series of meetings between the separating couple and the mediator. Throughout the process they work with an independent third party, the mediator, to help them both reach an agreement that they both feel comfortable with.
In most Family Law cases before starting court proceedings it is now compulsory to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out if mediation is suitable and the best way forward. Here at Slater and Gordon in Milton Keynes Tara Deegan our solicitor mediator is trained to offer MIAM meetings and can offer appointments at short notice at our offices in Central Milton Keynes. Tara is not only trained as a mediator but has been a Family Solicitor for 21 years so brings years of experience to her role as Family Mediator. Tara can also offer mediation from our offices in Cambridge and London.
To find out more about Family Mediation and for a free initial telephone consultation, in the South of England, please call Tara Deegan on 01908 354163 or call our national team of Family Mediation Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire & in Hull, Yorkshire.