Mediation and Legal Advice


Many couples want to see one person jointly to help with the divorce and struggle with the idea of seeing separate solicitors.

Mediation and Legal Advice

You want to go to mediation to avoid using solicitors and then when you meet with the mediator they tell you should take legal advice. Why? Many couples just want to see one person jointly.

As a mediator I cannot give you legal advice. I am a qualified solicitor and I have practised in family law for over 20 years. However, when I meet you as a mediator I leave my solicitor’s hat at the door. It is a fundamental principle of mediation that the mediator cannot give legal advice. By giving advice we become partial and this means we cannot then mediate for you as we are seen as taking sides.

I can in mediation use my legal training to explain the law, explain current case decisions and set out whether the proposals you are making in mediation fall within our law. This is a key tool I use in helping a couple move forward in mediation.

Mediation, however, works well if you take legal advice either before you start mediation or at the beginning of the process. Taking legal advice means that you speak to someone who is being partial and is giving you advice about what is best for you. Do remember that advice will be based upon the information you give your solicitor and your ex partner may be given slightly different advice as they present the information in a slight different way. Even though you may receive slightly different advice you will have your expectations set and will understand the basic legal principles which will be applied to your situation. It will make the discussions which then take place in mediation easier and enable you to move forward.

You can seek advice from your solicitor at any time during the mediation process and for some couples your solicitors may come to the mediation meetings.

Using a solicitor at the end of the process is also important. You will be leaving mediation with a set of proposals for sharing the children’s time, dividing the finances and sometimes the grounds for a divorce. Although the mediator will have shared legal information with you they will not have given you advice on the proposals. The mediator should have identified an areas where your proposals may cause concern to your legal adviser but that is not the same as taking your own advice. If you are going to have the proposals turned into a legally binding agreement then you should take advice before doing so.

Most family solicitors will be supportive of the mediation process and you won’t jeopardise the work you do in mediation by taking that advice. Your mediator will be able to recommend solicitors who will support you in mediation. Taking legal advice helps the mediation process and you should not be concerned if one of you says you are taking legal advice. Use it as an opportunity to also consider taking your own legal advice and help with moving the discussions forward.

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