The government has announced that they are to invest £1m in promoting mediation by granting £500 vouchers to contracting mediations services to assist clients in the cost of family mediation and to help them avoid acrimonious court proceedings. Only accredited mediators will be able to offer this, and the vouchers are available regardless of the means of the applicant.
Haymarket Family Mediation, which is part of Phillips Solicitors, is participating in the scheme funded by The Ministry of Justice via the Family Mediation Council (FMC). Launched on 26 March 2021, the scheme, which is limited to 2,000 cases, will offer a financial contribution of up to £500 per family towards the costs of their mediation.
Welcoming the initiative, Sheila Parkes, who heads the Haymarket Family Mediation team and is an accredited member of the FMC, said: “Family mediation is a proven cost-effective way to resolve differences following separation. The voucher scheme will make mediation accessible to more people, and help separated families agree to solutions that are best for their children.”
“However, it is important to note that the scheme does not cover the initial mediation information meeting (the MIAM) but does provide a contribution towards the cost of the subsequent mediation about child arrangements, irrespective of the income of either party. This will make the process more affordable to those who may not be eligible for legal aid but are still on modest incomes.”
Sheila also points out that for those who qualify for Legal Aid, which generally means those in receipt of Universal Credit, income-based ESA or Income Support and who have minimal savings, they will continue to be entitled to legal aid as previously so this scheme will not affect them.
Having been a qualified mediator for nearly 25 years, Sheila added: “Over the years, I have seen how much more beneficial it is for separating clients to reach agreement in mediation, rather than go through the adversarial court process which often ends up with an outcome that neither party wanted and almost inevitably leads to a further deterioration in the parent’s relationship.”
“Mediation is often a quicker, cheaper, more amicable and less stressful way of resolving disputes. The biggest advantage of mediation is that it can help you communicate better at a very difficult time which will help you to move on as separate individuals and help when future issues arise.”
“There are a limited number of the vouchers available, and when they are used, the scheme will end. So, if you are thinking about family mediation then it would be a good idea to think about this sooner rather than later.”
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Our mediators and staff are able to work remotely so Phillips Solicitors and Haymarket Family Mediation remain fully open for business. Mediation and appointments can take place by Zoom or other virtual platforms so you can be assured that we are able to meet your needs and we can discuss any questions you may have about this in advance and by telephone. During these difficult times, our Town Gate office in Basingstoke is temporarily closed to visitors unless by prior appointment and when meeting in person is essential.