Family mediators were able to give their views about government plans to boost numbers of separating families using mediation to make settlements, when The Family Mediation Council (“the FMC”) staged a special series of online meetings for them.
The Ministry of Justice has set out a number of proposals aimed at helping separating families in England and Wales see out-of-court dispute resolution as their first stop. A consultation on the plans runs until 15 June.
The FMC online meetings took place in April, with three separate one-hour discussions, arranged on days and at times to allow as many mediators as possible to take part.
“It is important for those who work day-in, day-out as professional family mediators to give their views about the significant changes being put forward,” says John Taylor, Chair of the FMC.
“Drawing on their experience and expertise will play a vital part in helping shape Ministers’ proposals – to provide the best benefit to families facing separation or divorce.
“That is why we asked mediators to give us their input into the FMC’s own response to the Ministry of Justice,” adds John Taylor. “Further meetings in May will probe deeper into the key issues that emerged in the initial sessions.
“As well as asking mediators to give their input into the FMC’s consultation response, we are also encouraging them to submit their own responses.
“The FMC will share its final response with all accredited mediators before the consultation deadline, so they will be fully aware of the FMC’s submission before making their own.”
Notes to editor
1. The Ministry of Justice consultation on private family law seeks views on how the UK Government can support families to agree their child and financial arrangements without going through the family courts. The consultation makes three main proposals:
- Making mediation a pre-court requirement in low-level family dispute cases.
- Introducing a power for judges to impose cost orders, in appropriate cases, on separating couples who do not make a reasonable attempt to mediate.
- Introducing a requirement for parents to attend co-parenting programmes before going to court, instead of being referred to them by a judge once court proceedings have started.
The changes form part of the Ministry of Justice’s priority: to reduce demand on the family courts by reducing backlogs and diverting cases away from the court, and so to spare families and protect children from lengthy and stressful courtroom battles which can have an adverse impact on the development and life chances of young people. Family courts could then better prioritise the more serious family cases – such as those with safeguarding concerns, or where there is domestic abuse.
2. The Family Mediation Council is the home of regulated family mediation in England and Wales. By choosing a mediator from the FMC Register, a family will be sure to get a mediator who is appropriately trained, who follow the FMC’s Code of Practice, who maintains professional practice by carrying out appropriate professional development activities, and who is supported by a supervisor (known as a Professional Practice Consultant). All FMC mediators are fully insured, and offer access to a complaints process if something goes wrong.
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