One of the region’s largest and longest standing law firms has won a tender to provide Legal Aid Family Mediation Services from February 2015.
GHP Legal, which has been providing family mediation services from its Wrexham head office since 2012, is one of only a small number of law firms in the area to be given such a contract.
Legal Aid for family law cases was drastically slashed in a Government cost-cutting exercise in April 2013, though it has remained available for cases involving victims of Domestic Violence and in other exceptional circumstances.
To save court time in general separation cases, couples are now required to go through a mediation process prior to any court hearing taking place.
Nathan Wright, a partner of GHP Legal, said: “The purpose of mediation is for separating couples to sit down together and discuss, with the assistance of an experienced family law mediator, the burning issues they face.
“This process can be less costly and less acrimonious than Court proceedings which are often so emotionally and psychologically challenging that the focus of a couple’s real intentions in relation to money or children can get distorted and drag out the case unnecessarily.
“With mediation the parties are able to sit down together and discuss possible outcomes without having the sense of ‘it’s me against him or her’. Mediation is very child focussed and whilst it is designed to try and find the best outcome for all parties it takes particular account of the needs of any children involved”.
“Although GHP Legal has been offering mediation services for some considerable time, it was only to privately paying clients. The Legal Aid contract we have just won means that we can now offer the same service to separating coupes who cannot afford to pay privately.
“This is excellent news for Wrexham residents as since the legal aid cuts came into force almost two years ago a lot of couples put off formalising their separation arrangements and suffered continuing heartache because they could not afford to comply with the mediation rules requirement.”