Using a Solicitor During Mediation
We would always recommend you obtain legal advice from a family solicitor as part of the mediation process.
Do I need a solicitor during mediation?
We would recommend you seek legal advice at some point during your separation and divorce.
You can choose to have a solicitor working alongside you throughout the mediation process or you can choose to involve them at different stages. The decision on when to bring in a solicitor is yours.
At the point in mediation when you have both provided full financial information, and are looking at proposals and likely options we will always ask you to seek advice from a solicitor; an appointment to talk through your finances and the proposals that have been discussed in mediation, to ensure you have full information before making final proposals for the way forward.
Advice from a solicitor should provide you with confidence and reassurance that the proposals you are making are fair to you.
What will a solicitor do for me during mediation?
A family solicitor will give you legal advice, they will tell you what they would expect to be the likely outcome for you if the case went to Court. We encourage you to ask your solicitor for ‘reasonable goal posts’ advice.
They can help with preparing financial information if you would like that help and they will draft a Consent Order at the end of the mediation process. They are your sounding board, and if you want it, they can provide you with support and advice throughout the whole of the mediation process.
You can share the summary of each session with your solicitor, and you can relay any discussions from the sessions to them.
Why do I need a solicitor and a mediator?
The mediator and the solicitor perform different roles in mediation. It is not a duplication of costs.
If you engage a solicitor their role is to advise you – just you – on the issues you bring to them. Your solicitor will provide support and assistance in whatever form you need within a legal framework: preparing documents, advising on law, drafting, contacting your ex’s solicitor and being on the other end of the phone for you. A solicitor represents your side of things.
The mediator’s role is different, mediators are working with you both in mediation sessions – together – usually in a number of sessions in the same room together. Mediators manage the dynamics between you to help you communicate and start to look at the way forward to help you reach joint decisions for the future. A mediator will not give either of you advice on what you should do. A mediator is working with you both.
If you are unsure about anything that arises in a mediation session or you would like clarification around any discussions you can take your concerns to your solicitor who will offer advice.
How much time will I need from a solicitor?
It is your decision how much time you need with your solicitor.
We will actively ask you both to take legal advice once your financial information is complete and you are looking at agreeing possible proposals. At this stage we talk about an hour’s worth of advice.
If you would like ongoing support and guidance from a solicitor from the outset and you can afford to do this, this is an option too, the costs of this will be higher.
Solicitor’s hourly rates vary and you can go to the Resolution and Law Society websites and look for specialist family solicitors in your area and their charges. Some solicitors are willing to offer a free or fixed cost initial interview.
Who pays the solicitors costs?
It depends on the financial resources of each of you and the willingness of both of you to look at issues as shared.
Sometimes people pay for the costs of their own solicitors separately.
For couples where one has no income or where there is a significant difference in income it can be agreed that the costs will be paid by the higher earner.
Sometimes couples agree to deduct their solicitor’s costs from the family assets at the point of settlement.
It is up to you both to decide how solicitors’ fees will be paid.
Sadly there is no government funding for legal fees, except in very limited circumstances.
Can you recommend a solicitor or how do I find one?
Yes, we can give you names of solicitors we work with, and you may want to talk to friends and family about solicitors they know and have worked with in the past.
Do I need a solicitor before I appoint a mediator?
You don’t need a solicitor before you appoint a mediator.
If you obtain some initial advice from a solicitor before embarking on your separation you may find your solicitor will give you some names of mediators.
Otherwise the choice of mediator is up to you. You both need to agree on the same mediator.
Horizon mediators are accredited by the Family Mediation Council and specialists in family mediation. See the link here for our profiles
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