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The Government announced that it is boosting its landmark family mediation voucher scheme with an additional £1.3 million. With over 4,400 vouchers already being used to resolve family arrangement disputes, this announcement is important for families wishing to avoid family courts.

Families will be able to resolve disputes away from court for arrangements involving financial or contact arrangements for children. The additional vouchers for mediation services are aimed at finding amicable solutions to couples’ disagreements and freeing up space in the family courts.

The vouchers aim to spare families from going through lengthy and expensive courtroom battles, which can also negatively impact their children’s health.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said: ‘’I want to see children and their parents spared the stress and conflict of the courtroom as much as possible, and I’m delighted that thousands more will now have the opportunity to resolve their disputes in less combative way. ‘’

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce welcomed the government’s ‘continued commitment’ to invest in family mediation but called for early legal advice for family law cases to be restored: ‘By restoring early legal advice for family law, fewer cases will go to court. Instead, there will be negotiated settlement, referral to mediation and management of client expectations. Solicitors are best placed to assess all alternative dispute resolution options with their clients, and to keep them out of court where possible and desirable.’

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is the process in which families can work out arrangements for their children and finances with the help of an experienced professional mediator. The mediator helps families from both sides to reach their own agreements harmoniously.

Family mediation is suggested when families find it hard to agree after a relationship breakdown. Mediators help families by giving them more control to make decisions and agree to a solution rather than have a judge decide for them in a court.

Family mediation has many benefits including allowing arrangements to be changed easier – if both parties are mutual- and it is a quicker way of resolving disputes without the stress of dealing with a court battle.

It is crucial that the agreement reached is fair and workable for both parties so early independent and professional legal advice is vital.

We at DMA Law welcome the additional funding to allow clients access to alternative methods for resolving family matters. Acrimonious court proceedings have a long-term detrimental impact on family relationships and it is well known that there is an emotional impact on the children involved. Mediation allows discussions in a much more informal environment and gives the clients a sense of control as to the outcome. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there is a significant backlog of cases to be dealt with and delay and cost will only increase tension within the family. Court proceedings should be the last resort and all other methods of resolution should be explored first’

Please get in touch with our family team and we would be happy to answer your questions and offer you a free consultation.