£1 million scheme to help families resolve disputes

A new £1 million mediation scheme designed to spare families going through separation the trauma of court appearances has been launched by the Government

Under the scheme, around 2,000 families will be able to apply for a £500 voucher towards the cost of Mediation to resolve issues relating to children following parental separation. This would normally be charged for unless one of the parties has access to legal aid.

Mediation is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than distressing court appearances. It involves couples working through their differences – led by a trained and accredited mediator – to reach agreements they are both prepared to accept, such as how to split assets or arranging child contact times, rather than have a judge decide for them.

They can then ask a court to consider their agreement and make it into a legally binding and enforceable court order.

The role of the Mediator is not to tell each party what to do, but to help them reach an agreement while trying to improve communication between them.

It is not the role of the Mediator to keep couples together, but to help them find a practical way forward after a relationship has broken down.

Mediation allows the parties to stay in control, as no one will be forced to do or agree to anything against their wishes. Unlike in a courtroom, both parties can agree to a solution rather than have a Judge decide for them.

A trained Mediator helps parties work out arrangements for children and finances where there is a dispute.

Research suggests that more than 70 per cent of those using these services will resolve their issues outside a courtroom.

The move will also help to alleviate pressures on the Family Court system resulting from the pandemic by diverting cases better suited for Mediation away from the Courts.

Courts Minister, Lord Wolfson QC, said: “Mediation is often a quicker, cheaper and less stressful way of resolving disputes, which helps separating couples reach amicable agreements without an unnecessary and often acrimonious court process.”

John Taylor, Chair of the Family Mediation Council said: “This government investment in mediation is much welcomed by the Family Mediation Council. It will help separated families agree solutions that are best for their children, taking into account what is going to be important for them as they grow up.”

Family Mediation is a proven cost-effective way to resolve differences following separation. This voucher scheme will make it even more accessible, and will help families resolve issues for themselves, without having to go to Court.

The scheme is eligible for families seeking to resolve disputes relating to children and those disputes that involve children and financial issues. If a case is eligible for a voucher, the Mediator will automatically claim back the contributions from the Government.

For more information please contact our Family Mediation Expert Peter Burden.