Mediators remain impartial in mediation. They cannot give legal advice to either person, although they are well informed about how the law works and they can provide useful legal information during mediation sessions.
You can seek advice from a solicitor at the start of mediation; once all the financial information has been disclosed; or once proposals have been put forward. This helps you to be fully informed about your position and can sometimes help people to be more realistic during mediation negotiations. Solicitors who are members of Resolution (R) have signed up to a code of practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues.
People are understandably anxious about the cost of paying for legal advice as well as mediation. Statistically however, costs for those who use mediation with legal advice alongside are less than half the costs of dealing with matters through solicitors alone. (Source: National Audit Office).
Remember, some solicitors offer free initial interviews or fixed fee packages (FF). Otherwise, their charges for advising or assisting you are calculated according to an hourly charging rate, plus VAT.
People who are eligible for Legal Aid and who are actively seeking financial solutions in mediation are entitled to a limited amount of free legal advice to support the mediation process, from solicitors who can offer Legal Aid (LA). This is called Help with Family Mediation.
If you’re unable to mediate, Collaborative Law (CL) may be something to consider. A solicitor who offers collaborative law would sit with you, your ex-partner and their solicitor to try to resolve matters. There are various protocols to ensure this is used for the purpose of reaching agreement.