Today saw the official opening of the Legal Aid Board’s new co-located Law Centre and Mediation Centre in Portlaoise.
In attendance at the official opening, was Minister for Justice and Equality andvLaois TD Charlie Flanagan, among others.
The Legal Aid Board is the State agency that provides legal advice and legal representation in civil law cases to persons of limited means, as well as providing the family mediation service which seeks to resolve family disputes without recourse to legal proceedings.
Minister Flanagan said: “The mediation element of the Legal Aid Board’s services provides an alternative to formal court proceedings for couples, married and non-married, who have made the difficult decision to end their relationship but wish to negotiate the terms of their separation or divorce, or reach an agreement on parenting that meets their interests and those of the child or children.
“This co-located facility in Portlaoise will assist people to resolve their family difficulties using a mediation process where possible.”
A person seeking to avail of mediation to assist with the resolution of a family problem can apply to any of the Legal Aid Board’s family mediation offices.
The second party also needs to contact the same office to confirm his or her interest in attending mediation. There is no charge for the mediation service and it is not means tested.
Philip O’Leary, Chairperson of the Legal Aid Board said: “Our aspiration is that the co-location of our services encourages more persons requesting legal services in relation to a family dispute to seek to resolve the dispute with the assistance of a mediator rather than through a court process.
“While our primary goal is to achieve better outcomes and a potentially more humane process, mediation can also help alleviate pressure on the family courts system.”
Family mediation services are also provided in certain courthouses in conjunction with family law sittings.
Minister Flanagan added: “I welcome the growing interest of members of the Judiciary in the application of mediation as a means of resolving family disputes.
Court-based mediation, in which a representative of the Legal Aid Board mediation service is available to those attending family law hearings, provides a valuable opportunity to provide advice on the role that mediation can play in resolving their situation.”
The co-located Legal Aid Board Law Centre and Mediation Centre is located at Unit 26, 1st Floor, Gandon Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
The Legal Aid Board has a network of 30 full time law centres and 17 mediation offices located throughout the country.