The family mediation voucher scheme is a time-limited scheme, designed to support parties who may be able to resolve their family law disputes outside of court. The Government has set up the scheme in response to Covid-19 to support recovery in the family court and to encourage more people to consider mediation as a means of resolving their disputes, where appropriate. To support this, a financial contribution of up to £500 towards the costs of mediation will be provided, if eligible.
Only mediators authorised by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) are taking part in the voucher scheme.
How do I know if I am eligible for a mediation voucher?
On attendance of a MIAM, a trained mediator will assess the issues which you seek to resolve to see if they are suitable for mediation and meet the eligibility requirements for the voucher scheme.
Not all cases are eligible under the scheme. The case types specified below are eligible for a mediation voucher:
- a dispute/application regarding a child
- a dispute/application regarding family financial matters where you are also involved in a dispute/application relating to a child
How will I receive the voucher?
If you decide to proceed with mediation, and are eligible for the voucher, your mediator will apply for the voucher funding and it will be paid directly to them once all mediation sessions are concluded. You will not receive a physical voucher and you will not need to make an application for it. You can find your local mediator here.
Vouchers are limited in number and will be offered to eligible parties until they are no longer available. Your mediator will let you know if there are vouchers available.
What do I have to do to take part in the scheme?
You will be asked to confirm that you have:
- asked the mediator to apply for the voucher
- not already applied for another voucher as part of the same scheme
- given consent to your mediator providing your necessary information to the Family Mediation Council. This includes your name, the bill for mediation services you receive from the mediator and some basic information about your case.
How many vouchers will I receive?
You can only claim once per family/ case for a one-off contribution of up to £500 towards your mediation costs.
If you have an application or dispute relating to a child and also have a financial issue application or dispute ongoing at the same time, you can still only receive up to £500.
If you make a second application and have already received a voucher, you will not be offered a second voucher under this scheme.
Will the voucher cover all my mediation costs?
This will depend on the rates set by your chosen mediator and how many mediation sessions are required. The voucher is intended to be a contribution towards mediation sessions. Your mediator will tell you their rates and how many sessions the voucher is likely to cover. As the total value of the voucher is £500, you may need to contribute to the overall cost of your sessions if you choose to continue with mediation.
Can I get a voucher if I am eligible for legal aid?
Yes, if you are eligible for legal aid you can still be eligible for a voucher.
The mediation voucher scheme is a one-off financial contribution of up to £500 and will not cover the cost of a MIAM. Legal aid will provide funding for the MIAM and all mediation sessions, if you are eligible.
At your MIAM, your FMC accredited mediator will talk through your options (including whether they are able to take on legal aid work).
Can I obtain a voucher if the other person in mediation is entitled to legal aid?
Yes, the vouchers are allocated per case.
If one person in that case is eligible for legal aid, the other person can still apply for a voucher to contribute toward their mediation costs. If the other person is eligible for legal aid but you are not then you will also be entitled to legal aid funding which will cover the cost of the MIAM and the a first mediation session.
I have already attended a MIAM and didn’t get information about this scheme. Can I now attend mediation and get a voucher?
The mediation voucher scheme comes into effect on 26 March 2021. Vouchers can only be obtained where a MIAM has been attended on or after this date.
You will also be asked to complete a short monitoring questionnaire. Completing this is optional.
Your mediator will be required to provide some information about your case, such as whether you reach an agreement and whether you ask the court to formalise an agreement. The data provided will be anonymised before being used to provide information about the way in which the voucher scheme and the mediation services were used.