It’s that time of year: when the divorce rate spikes as couples decide to their separate ways. Making this unpleasant time as painless is possible is a priority, and these days mediation plays a bigger part than ever. Find out if mediation is for you.
Considering mediation is a legal requirement
You may be aware that it is now a legal requirement for separating couples to consider family mediation before they can apply to a court to resolve their disputes, except for in special circumstances (such as where domestic violence is involved).
Family mediation helps couples to make practical arrangements to resolve their disputes. People applying to the family court regarding disputes over matters such as children and finances, which often arise as a result of separation, must attend an initial meeting – called a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) – which is free and it allows them to find out more about mediation and whether it’s right for them.
The benefits of mediation
So, mediation — what are the benefits?
- It gives those involved more say about what happens; with mediation, each party make the decisions. In court, a judge will make the decisions and a court order is binding
- It is quicker, cheaper and provides a better way to sort out disagreements than long drawn-out court battles. That means it helps people get on with their lives as quickly as possible
- It is easier on children when parents co-operate. Mediation helps them to continue important family relationships
- The average time for a mediated case to be resolved is 110 days compared to 435 days for a non-mediated case. (Source: Report on legal aid and mediation for people involved in family breakdown, National Audit Office 2007)
Want more information about mediation?
See our guest post by Rt. Hon Simon Hughes, which takes us through the steps involved in mediation and exactly how it can help.
The Family Mediation Council provides more information about mediation and a “find your local mediator” search facility for practitioners in England and Wales.
Legal Aid and Mediation
An uncapped legal aid budget for family mediation remains available for those who meet the eligibility criteria. Recently the Government extended funding so that, if one person is entitled to legal aid, the other party can also go on to get the first session of mediation for free.
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