Haymarket Family Mediation welcomes the news that a voucher scheme designed to help separating couples resolve disputes out of court, has been extended by the government.
Sheila Parkes, who heads Haymarket Family Mediation, which is part of Phillips Solicitors, said that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has made available an additional £800,000 to distribute in family mediation vouchers. This is on top of the initial £1million funding which was made available when the scheme was launched in March this year.
Sheila said: “This means 1,600 more families with issues about children will be able to receive up to £500 towards the cost of mediation without having to be means tested.”
“This is very good news for couples with children who are looking to separate as the scheme opens up mediation to those who otherwise could not afford it as well as encouraging people who may have been reluctant to give mediation a try.”
“It also enables children, usually aged over 10, to be given a voice as part of the mediation process, often helping to achieve excellent outcomes between parents.”
According to the MoJ, data from the Family Mediation Council (FMC), which runs the scheme, has shown that up to three-quarters of participants have reached a full or partial agreement with their dispute.
“This is a good endorsement of how mediation can help families,” said Sheila. “Trained family mediators like myself help parents plan for the future and decide together what is best for their children without having to go to court and ask a judge to decide on the case.”
“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 necessarily affect them.
“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.”
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This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.