The Family Mediation Council (“the FMC”), the home of accredited family mediation across England and Wales, has welcomed an announcement by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of its plans to resolve private family law disputes earlier through mediation.
Beverley Sayers, FMC Board member, says:
“Too many separating couples currently see the primary route of taking their dispute to a family court, with all the costs, stress and delays that involves.
“Research shows that prolonged parental conflict has a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of children and that adults find the court process stressful too.
“Family mediation is a process that helps separating couples make arrangements over parenting, property and money, in a way that lets them keep control of their family’s future. The evidence is clear: 69% of families who go to an Accredited Family Mediator resolve issues and avoid court. *
“We welcome government action that further encourages separating families to resolve issues earlier through mediation, and make parenting and financial arrangements, without all the complications and expense involved in going to court.
“We also welcome the decision by Ministers to emphasise the essential voluntary nature of mediation in line with the views of hundreds of expert, experienced family mediators who helped shape the FMC’s response to the government’s consultation on the plans.”
She said the FMC also welcomes:
- Removal of outdated exemptions to Mediation Information and Information meetings (MIAMs), particularly recognising the recent substantial movement to online mediation meetings
- Support for further development of domestic abuse screening and training for mediators
- Support for child-inclusive mediation by enabling mediators to apply for Disclosure and Barring Service checks
- The commitment of the UK government to work with Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru to help more families undertake parenting programmes
- A new pilot facilitating early legal advice for parents/carers facing challenges when agreeing their child arrangements.
Beverley Sayers added: “Family mediation is a process that has the potential to help many thousands more separating couples for many years to come, and we look forward to closely monitoring the impact and maximising the benefits of the changes that have now been announced.
“These government plans are the latest steps forward in long-running efforts to create a cultural shift, steering couples away from the family court. The aim has to be to help separating families see that mediation can produce outcomes for all family members which are more tailored to their own unique family than those the court could provide.”
*Ministry of Justice Family Mediation Voucher Scheme Analysis, March 2023