Mediators do not give legal advice, but always recommend that you use a solicitor to obtain independent legal advice during the process of mediation. The use of a solicitor will be targeted, therefore helping you avoid the hefty legal costs associated with the traditional route of 'solicitor only'. Mediation gives you the opportunity to stay in control of your own decision-making, taking into account the general information given by the mediator about the legal framework and the specific advice you receive from your solicitor.
The mediator will talk to you about the best timing for taking legal advice. If you are negotiating financial issues, it can be helpful if you receive advice during the process, particularly around the time you are developing options. However, you can seek legal advice at any point before, during or after mediation if you think it will support you in your negotiations and decision-making. A solicitor can assist you in your financial disclosure, give advice about proposals under consideration or discuss other options you might want to raise in mediation. They can also help you compare the options you are considering in mediation with what you could expect to achieve in court.
In addition to a solicitor, you may also need to seek advice from other specialists, such as estate agents, mortgage providers, financial and/or pension advisors while you are in mediation.
The documents prepared by the mediator at the end of the process - an outcome summary or a Memorandum of Understanding - are not legally binding but you can take them your solicitor to ensure a legally binding agreement and/or draft order is prepared. This is particularly important following finance and property mediation.
The costs of a solicitor vary considerably, but it is important to find one who specialises in family law. Your local National Family Mediation (NFM) provider may be able to provide you with a list of specialist family solicitors in your area.
If you eligible for Legal Aid, you will be able to access free legal advice (Legal Help) while you are in mediation. To obtain this, ask your mediator to sign a CW5 form any time after you have attended your first mediation session.
NFM is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.