The Government announced earlier this year a time-limited voucher scheme to help encourage more families to resolve disputes regarding children via mediation and to avoid court proceedings. The scheme was set up as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on the family justice system. Out of the 2000 mediation vouchers that were initially made available to families, 1000 have now been requested and allocated.
Early data shows that 79% of cases mediated under the scheme are successful in resolving some or all issues and that 77% of those are not proceeding to court (except in some cases to obtain a consent order).
Linda Hunter, Head of Family Law at Rowlinsons Solicitors commented:
“It’s great to see that take up on the mediation voucher scheme has been so high and that early signs demonstrate how effective it can be in finding amicable solutions to complex issues. As a firm we always strive to find ways to avoid disputes during separation and divorce, particularly where children are involved. Mediation is one option open to our clients and with the £500 contribution from the Government it’s something all couples should be considering.”
Mediation is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes, which can spare families the trauma of attending court and the impact this can have on children. It involves couples working through their differences, facilitated and supported by a trained and accredited family mediator, to reach resolutions about issues such as how to divide assets or agreements in respect of children. They can then ask a court to consider their agreement and make it into a legally binding and enforceable court order.
The voucher scheme is eligible for families seeking to resolve private law or financial matters relating to children – for example child arrangements or financial disputes regarding a child’s upbringing.