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Family Law Experts Back New Plans To Increase Mediation Use

MoJ Reveals Introduction Of New Laws


By Rob Dixon

The announcement of new plans to encourage greater use of mediation as part of the separation process are a vital step towards ensuring people going through divorce are aware of all of their options, according to a family law specialist.

Research by the Ministry of Justice has shown that, in 2012, 67 per cent of all publicly funded couples resolved their concerns and made arrangements for their separation through the use of mediation. As public funding disappears, there is an expectation that this percentage will rise over the coming years.

The department has introduced new laws in the Children and Families Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, which will mean separating couples will attend initial sessions to consider whether mediation is a viable option for them to resolve issues such as arrangements for their children and financial provisions.

Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said the aim was to ensure the courts are viewed as “a last resort” in the divorce process.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Family Law team, which specialises in providing support to couples going through separation, has welcomed the announcement.

John Nicholson, a Partner and specialist in family law at the national law firm’s London office, said: “When going through the process of separation, many people wrongly assume that they have no choice but to go through emotionally draining and costly battles in court in order to make binding arrangements for their children and to finalise financial arrangements between them.

“However, we have been long-time supporters of the benefits of mediation, which is one of several options that people can consider and also spares both parties – and any children involved – the emotional unpleasantness of a court battle.

“Mediation gives a couple in the process of separating the chance to sit down with trained and qualified mediators to carefully work through exactly how they both want the key issues in their lives to be handled.

“The aim is simple – to take the stress out of the process and make sure people do not face unnecessary and drawn-out disputes over how to separate their assets and co-parent their children effectively.”

John added: “While we always ensure that those who come to us for help are aware of their options such as mediation, we welcome the Government’s plans to formalise this and to try to ensure that the concept is always considered.

“As every case is different and often complex, mediation may not suit all scenarios, but it is likely to prove highly beneficial in a great number.

“The pain of separation is difficult to deal with and it is important that people minimise the burden it imposes by finding the least stressful way forward and considering non-court based options with their legal advisor.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Family Law