The Government announced in March 2021 a time-limited voucher scheme to help encourage more families to resolve disputes regarding children via mediation. The scheme was set up as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on the family justice system. 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).
The scheme was extended once in 2021 and was due to end in March 2022. However, it has been confirmed this week that the Ministry of Justice have extended the scheme again from the 1st April.
Linda Hunter, Head of Family Law at Rowlinsons Solicitors commented:
“The voucher scheme has been fantastic helping so many more families access mediation services that otherwise wouldn't have. The take up and success rates have been fantastic, and it is brilliant news that this scheme has been extended again”
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 child arrangements. 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 available 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. The voucher contributes up to £500 towards the costs of mediation