Divorcing Couples Face Compulsory Mediation

Divorcing Couples Face Compulsory Mediation

 

Divorcing couples will be referred to mediation to sort out most disputes before they are allowed to use the courts.

The measures for England and Wales, focused on child custody and financial disputes, came into force on 6 April 2014. Domestic violence and child protection cases will still go to court.

Mediation is quicker, cheaper and a more amicable alternative to the over-worked family courts.

Nearly every time you ask someone if their stressful divorce battle through the courts was worth it, their answer is ‘no’.”Mediation already helps thousands of people across England and Wales every year, and the individuals that are funding their own court actions are missing out on the benefits mediation can bring. 

The new changes in family law will radically reform the system and encourage people to take advantage of the most appropriate sources of help, advice or routes to resolution – which will not always involve the expense of lawyers or courts. Through using mediation everyone will have the opportunity to see if it could be a better solution than going straight to court.

Reported on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, statistics suggested that more than two-thirds of couples who took up mediation were “satisfied with the results”.  “It gives people the opportunity to take their own futures in their own hands.” Under the changes in family law, anyone wanting to use the courts will have to undergo a compulsory mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM) first. We charge £90 for a sole meeting to discuss whether mediation is a viable option to find a resolution to your dispute.  If mediation is not a workable option, for example one party refuses to take part in it, the case can proceed to court.

The recent legal aid cuts has meant than many separating couples will be unable to pay for legal advice and court representation which is a lot more expensive than mediation.

The Ministry of Justice recorded that 137,000 divorce cases were dealt with in 2009, up by 16%.  The cost per client of mediation is approximately £535, compared with £2,823 for court costs and the National Audit Office also found mediation was quicker – 110 days, compared with 435 days for court cases.

The family courts in England and Wales are under a tremendous strain due to being innundated with resolving family disputes. The court system is at breaking point and for many parents going through this traumatic experience in trying to resolve their dispute, the situation is also intolerable for the children of divorced parents. 

Mediation may not be sucessful in every case, however direct communication to negotiate on your own terms to reach an amicable solution is certainly a good start.  Mediation can be one of the most appropriate source of help, and faciltate discussions to finding a route to resolution – which will not always involve the expense of lawyers or courts.