Thousands more separating parents will avoid stressful courtroom battles as the Government boosts its landmark family mediation scheme with an additional £1.3 million.
The extra investment is expected to help more families resolve disputes away from court, such as those involving financial or contact arrangements for children and takes investment in the initiative to more than £3m since its launch in March last year.
Today’s funding will provide 2,440 additional vouchers for mediation services – each worth £500 – with the aim of finding amicable solutions to couples’ disagreements and freeing up space in the family courts. It seeks to spare them going through often lengthy and costly courtroom battles, which can have a damaging impact on their children.
Mediation is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes. It involves couples working through their differences – led by a trained and accredited mediator – to reach agreements they are both prepared to accept, such as how to split assets or arrange child contact times, rather than have a judge decide for them.
Since its launch, 4,400 vouchers have already been used under the scheme with 77 percent of cases reaching full or partial agreements away from the family courts.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
I want to see children and their parents spared the stress and conflict of the courtroom as much as possible, and I’m delighted that thousands more will now have the opportunity to resolve their disputes in less combative way.
At the same time, it will free up vital capacity in the family courts to ensure the system can recover quickly from the pandemic.
Initial research from the Family Mediation Council (FMC), who run the scheme, shows promising results. Of the first 2,000 cases using the vouchers, more than three-quarters (77 percent) reached either a whole or partial agreement outside of court. Nearly half (49 percent) say they would not have considered mediation if the voucher had not been on offer.
The extra funding will be confirmed by Justice Minister Lord Wolfson tomorrow in a virtual speech to accredited mediators, marking the start of Family Mediation Week. In total the Government has invested just short of £3.3m into the scheme, following the initial £1m at launch and an additional £800k in August. The extra money will allow the initiative to run until the end of March.
If a case is eligible for vouchers, the mediator will automatically claim back the contributions from government.