Launched on World Mental Health Day, MSB Solicitors, 174 Law and Berkson Family Law Solicitors, will offer a new option called Lawyer-Supported Mediation for separating families on low incomes
Three Liverpool law firms joined forces on Tuesday to launch a pioneering new family law service aimed at tens of thousands of separating families that cannot afford the hourly rates of high street divorce lawyers.
Launched on World Mental Health Day, Liverpool law firms MSB Solicitors, 174 Law and Berkson Family Law Solicitors, will offer a new option called Lawyer-Supported Mediation.
The service was developed by social enterprise Dialogue First and will see the three firms take the unprecedented step of agreeing to fix their fees at the same amount for any separating family needing professional support to resolve child arrangements and financial matters.
The new service is intended to correct a long-standing high-street market failure that sees barely half of separating couples reach out for legal advice. Given the dire long-term financial and mental health outcomes that accompany divorce, Lawyer-Supported Mediation is aimed at families previously priced out of lawyer-led services.
It also promotes informed dialogue between separating parents at a time when their children need them to communicate the most.
Marc Lopatin, co-founder of Dialogue First, said: “The data has long been saying that separation is second only to bereavement as a risk to mental ill-health. It actually takes longer to recover emotionally from separation than it does the death of a loved one. Therefore, it’s high time a service was available to people that’s affordable and recognises the importance of mental health.”
Emma Carey, partner and head of family at MSB Solicitors says: “We’re delighted to be involved in this initiative and it is fantastic to see it being led by local firms.
“By integrating our role as legal advisers with the largely untapped benefits of family mediation, we’re able to offer a full service to families who in many instances would otherwise not have reached out for support. The service is another example of how dynamic and forward-facing the legal sector is in Liverpool.”
The three law firms will also make participating divorce lawyers available as virtual legal advisers so that the service can be extended beyond Liverpool, to families living anywhere across England and Wales. The total cost of using Lawyer-Supported Mediation runs at approximately half the cost of using a divorce lawyer to negotiate a pre-court agreement