Governments plans for more family mediation
Last week Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes confirmed plans to introduce major changes designed to ensure that in future, separating parents and couples will first consider using mediation as an alternative to Court proceedings.
The Justice Minister’s announcement came in the week when the media claim that more people seek to start a divorce than in any other week of the year. His announcement does not come as any surprise to family lawyers. Indeed, the emphasis on mediation as an alternative to Court proceedings has been in place for some time with parties being required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) prior to issuing an application to the Court. So far, that has been an expectation rather than a requirement but that is set to change.
As always, there are exemptions from this requirement (for example, where there is evidence of domestic violence) but generally, once the change has been brought in you will be required to attend a MIAM prior to issuing an application to the Court in any family proceedings, so that will include applications for financial provision and applications relating to children.
The Government have already withdrawn Legal Aid for a number of family cases but will continue to offer Legal Aid for mediation provided you are financially eligible. The Family Justice Minister confirmed the Government’s commitment to mediation stating that “mediation works and we are committed to making sure that more people make use of it, rather than go through the confrontation or the stressful experience of going to Court”. He added, “When people separate we want them to do it in the least damaging way for everyone involved, especially children. That is why we want them to use the excellent mediation services available to agree a way forward, rather than have one forced upon them”.
Here at Blocks we are committed to assisting parties in resolving their disputes in a constructive and non-confrontational way. We will always discuss mediation as an option. Both Ben and Demelza are members of Resolution, an Association of Family Lawyers who are committed to assisting parties in resolving their disputes constructively. In addition to mediation we always advise on other processes to assist including the collaborative process, round table meetings as well as the more traditional lawyer negotiations through correspondence.
For more information contact Demelza Butler at our Ipswich office on 01473 230033 or e-mail email@example.com.