WHO PAYS FOR MEDIATION EXPENSES?

You may be qualified for legal aid for family mediation if you are on certain benefits, have a low income, and do not have a lot of money or assets.

If you are qualified for legal aid, an accredited family mediator will assess you for it, and if you are, your mediation will be free, as will the opposing party’s initial meeting and the first joint mediation session. If they are not eligible for legal aid, they only need to begin paying for subsequent mediation session after the first.

If you’re looking for a mediation service and believe you could be qualified for legal aid, this is something to think about. Using the Family Mediation Council’s search, you can locate a nearby mediator.

But, and if you’re not legally qualified, who should pay for the mediation, and how can it work in a time of scarcity?

Most mediation firms will quote their prices per person per hour or session. This is due to the fact that, in most situations, each party will be responsible for their own payments for the duration of the service. It thus follows that each party has a vested interest in moving things forward and reaching an agreement.

Some couples will agree that the costs of mediation will be deducted from a joint account or savings, or that one party will pay in advance and then the costs will be split as part of the overall financial agreement.

What if one of the parties is unable or unwilling to pay? The other party has three options in such cases:

• Maintain the current situation or attempt to fix it amongst themselves

• File an order with the family court.

Going to court with representation by a lawyer or barrister is likely to be significantly more expensive than the entire cost of family mediation, and it will typically take much longer as well. As a result, before going to court, you should carefully consider your options.

If you do not wish to pay the whole cost of the mediation, you must have explored mediation with an MIAM. These can be completed online, and Fixed Price Divorce offers an expedited route for individuals who prefer to go straight to court.

In some circumstances, consumers believe that the costs should be borne by the other party since they are to fault or are causing the problem to worsen. However, just as a court will not seek to punish or reward behaviour throughout a relationship, the mediation service cannot require one party to pay. Mediation is unlikely to occur if you cannot agree on who will bear the costs.

According to the FMC poll, the average cost of family mediation is £140 per person per hour in 2019. (including VAT). The majority of mediators charge an hourly price given from £250 to £400. (excluding VAT). If you wind up going to court for just a financial concern, you will be billed upwards of £20,000 plus VAT if you require representation – something you should always consider if going to court.

Fixed Price Divorce consistently assists clients in reaching an agreement in 90 percent of cases – so you have a strong chance of settling the matter through mediation, even if you pay the entire cost yourself. Furthermore, typically clients require 2-3 joint sessions to achieve an agreement on a parenting or financial concern — making it a significantly less expensive and faster alternative to going to court.

The judge referred one couple to us in desperation since their legal fees totaled more than £230,000! It was a complex case that took longer than usual, but we were able to help them achieve an agreement in six joint sessions for slightly over £1,000 each. My best suggestion is to try mediation firstly, share expenses if possible, and negotiate the cost of mediation appointments as part of the mediation process. In either case, you will typically save thousands of pounds.”

WHO PAYS THE MEDIATION FEES? – A CASE STUDY

Following Martin’s decision to leave the marriage, the couple sought family mediation. Martin had left Mai for another woman and was now cohabiting with her, thus it was a high-conflict situation. Mai felt financially responsible for her children, despite the fact that they were all over the age of 18.

Mai stated that she would attend family mediation only if Martin paid, which Martin originally refused. Martin decided to seek a pecuniary order through his local family court, but first he had to attend an MIAM. By participating in the MIAM, he decided that we should write to Mai and formally invite her to mediate their divorce arrangement. She stated that she would pay for her first visit, but Martin would be responsible for any collaborative mediation sessions. Martin agreed grudgingly.

They were able to complete a thorough financial disclosure but struggled to put the divorce circumstances aside, and they both battled to reach an agreement. They did, however, agree to have the case reviewed by a barrister. This cost them £499 apiece, and they received a comprehensive report and legal opinion on what they should do and the expected outcome if they went to court. When they received the report, they both accepted the barrister’s recommendation in its entirety and packaged it into one of the fixed-fee divorce packages.

The total cost to them was slightly more than £2,000 for mediation, paperwork, a barrister review, divorce, and consent order, as well as a solicitor to manage the entire process. They’d each been charged £5,000 to £10,000 just to get to the first hearing for the money dispute in court – and that didn’t include the additional work to manage the divorce and file the consent order.

The clients were overjoyed because they could not only move on with their lives faster, but they also had at least £20,000 extra in their bank accounts to spend on themselves post-divorce. All because Mai agreed to pay for her MIAM and Martin agreed to pay for their first combined mediation session.