Government support for family mediation continues
Government support for family mediation continues
Elizabeth Taylor

27 March 2023

The Government has launched a consultation to consider how family mediation can further be used to reduce the number of families who end up in the family court to resolve their difficulties.

At the same time, the current Family Mediation Voucher Scheme has been extended for a further 2 years until 2025 with additional consultation on expanding its remit.

 So how can mediation help you and what further changes might happen?

At the moment, anyone applying to the court for an order about family-related matters must demonstrate that they have considered family mediation by attending a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”).  The consultation proposes strengthening this requirement with potential costs consequences for anyone who does not try mediation.  There will be, as there are now, exemptions to these rules to make sure that anyone at risk within an abusive relationship will be kept safe.

The aim of this is to keep families out of the court system but why is this important? 

Over recent years, more applications for Child Arrangements Order have been made than ever before.  The average length of time for a case to be resolved through the court has risen from 26 weeks in 2019 to over 40 weeks by 2021.  If the court has to make a final decision about children, it may not be an outcome which is nuanced enough to ideally meet needs of that particular family and preferences of the parties.  There is little flexibility once an order is made.  In addition to the time and cost implications of the proceedings, litigation inevitably increases acrimony between the separating couple which will never be in the best interests of them of their children.

The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme has given over 13,500 families a financial contribution of £500 towards their costs of mediation (not the MIAM) where it relates to issues around their children.  Haymarket Family Mediation will continue to help clients to use these vouchers wherever possible and is very pleased that this successful scheme will continue.  The consultation further proposes that the Voucher Scheme is extended to cover mediation about financial issues as well and this would be a welcome development.

We hope that the consultation will lead to even more support being given to family mediation by the government and family courts but in the meanwhile, family mediation remains an effective, cost-efficient option for many families and the Voucher Scheme provides financial assistance where the issues relate to children.  If you would like to explore how mediation can help you resolve your family disputes, please contact Haymarket Family Mediation today on 01256 460830 or through [email protected]

To see the consultation in full, click here; Supporting earlier resolution of private family law arrangements (publishing.service.gov.uk)

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