Duncan Lewis

Mediation may become a requirement for separating couples new laws would say

Date: (6 June 2013)    |    

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New ways are being devised by the government to put solicitors out of business. As if reforms were not enough in legal aid funding separating couples have been subjected to find out ways to settle disputes away from the courtroom if the new laws currently going through Parliament become law.
Then the separating couples would legally require complying with about ways to settle disputes.
New figures show that 124,420 couples filed for divorce in 2012 but instead of potentially long and costly court hearings couples opted for mediation – a quicker, cheaper option which provides better outcomes. Last year 67% of all publicly funded couples resolved their concerns out of court with a qualified mediator.
Visiting the Family Mediation Bureau in Bromley, South East London the Family Justice Minister Lord McNally met with families who have successfully used mediation to reach agreements over children and property and finance matters.
Such couples would require attending an initial information and assessment session to see whether it would be better for them to use mediation than going through a court room battle over dividing property and agreeing on child custody arrangements.
The government is predicting a sharp rise in the use of mediation centers for separating couples in the next two years. In support of this move the MoJ has introduced the new laws in the Children and Families Bill which was currently progressing through Parliament.
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said that the benefits of mediation were clear, quicker, and cheaper and led to better outcomes. This is why the government was introducing new rules requiring couples to attend a mediation information assessment meeting first to find out more and consider whether it was suitable for them.
He added he would want to see separating couples, as much as possible use mediation so that courts would be the last resort when couples were working out how to split assets and arrange time with the children.
He said in recent times greater numbers of people were using mediation successfully where they were helped in sorting out issues through a qualified mediator instead of arguing through a family lawyer with a judge taking the final decision.
Explaining about mediation he said other than being quicker and cheaper it allows people to explain their concerns and needs in the presence of a qualified mediator where the couple can interact with each other directly rather than solicitors or across a courtroom. It is then they, rather than a judge, who decide a mutually acceptable outcome.

 

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