Taylor&Emmet expands legal aid mediation to four offices

Couples from across Sheffield and North Derbyshire can now access legal aid for family law mediation at all four offices of Taylor&Emmet.

Those willing to negotiate a separation without court intervention can do so with the help of specialist mediators at Taylor&Emmet in Sheffield, Ecclesall Road, Dronfield and Bakewell.

The firm has secured a contract with the Legal Aid Agency, enabling it to offer this alternative means of resolving financial disputes or arrangements for children to eligible clients. The mediation is not aimed at reuniting couples, but helping them work towards a separation agreement that suits both parties and is likely to work long term.

Fay Bunting (pictured), Taylor&Emmet’s family law expert and qualified mediator, said: “The government is offering legal aid-funded mediation to individuals who would not be able to access financial assistance for more traditional means of dispute resolution. We believe keeping family matters out of the courts is beneficial for all involved and we hope by improving accessibility and awareness of the options available, more people will choose to take a less combative approach to separation.”

In certain cases, couples are required by law to attend an initial mediation information and assessment meeting before proceeding with a court application. If one person qualifies for legal aid, they and their partner will receive this meeting free of charge. If the mediator deems them suitable candidates for the process, the first joint session may also be funded for both parties.

Elsewhere at Taylor&Emmet, the firm has appointed a third children panel member to its family law team in Sheffield.

Childcare solicitor Sarah Ewbank has joined the firm to strengthen its capacity to represent children, parents and guardians in local authority care proceedings.

Pictured, from left to right: Sarah Ewbank, Pat Wotherspoon and James Gascoigne

Ewbank will be working alongside Taylor&Emmet’s existing children panel solicitors, Pat Wotherspoon and James Gascoigne. She was previously based at Norrie, Waite and Slater in Sheffield, where she spent 20 years specialising in childcare work, after coming to the city to complete a degree in psychology as a mature student.

Wotherspoon said: “Sarah is a highly experienced, highly ethical childcare solicitor who brings to our team a great deal of empathy and insight into this complex area of the law.”