The government have introduced a Mediation Voucher Scheme which is to help towards the cost of Mediation for separating couples
Encouraging them to seek to resolve their disputes outside of court when appropriate to do so. This voucher is the first of its kind and is the first form of funding from the government since the Legal Aid cuts in 2013 for private clients.
Mediation is a process where an independent trained professional helps a separating couple to work out arrangements in respect of children and finances without the need to take the costly approach of entering a family courtroom. The hope of the introduction of the voucher scheme is to divert couples away from the court room as mediation is proven to be a very effective alternative way of seeking a resolution for most separating couples.
Mediators are not there to tell each side what to do, they are there to help facilitate the conversation of the couple so that each side gets heard, and they seek a conclusion amicably, as the mediator controls the communication and steers it into a direction that will be productive for the couple and their needs. The added benefit of mediation is that each side can determine the outcome, where as a Judge in court will make the decisions.
As a result of the mediation process, a document of what was agreed is drawn up and can become legally binding by the court.
Mediation is a swifter and less stressful way of resolving disputes especially for children who are involved in proceedings. It is also a more confidential process unlike family proceedings in the court.
Each separating couple can receive a voucher up to the value of £500 towards the cost of their mediation. The £1 million injection from the government can therefore help approximately 2000 couples in the UK. This scheme is a much-needed relief for the family courts which are currently already working on a backlog of matters due to the pandemic, which had halted court hearings from taking place.
John Taylor, Chair of the Family Mediation Council said ‘This government investment in mediation is much welcomed by the Family Mediation Council. It will help separated families agree solutions that are best for their children, taking into account what is going to be important for them as they grow up. Family mediation is a proven cost-effective way to resolve differences following separation. This voucher scheme will make it even more accessible, and will help families resolve issues for themselves, without having to go to court.’
In order to be eligible for the voucher, an assessment will be conducted to determine the needs of the couples, this assessment will not be financial means based. Couples must have attended a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) on or after 26th March 2021 to be eligible for this scheme.
From 1st April, The Family Mediation Council will allow mediators to register to participate in the scheme and to access the forms required to make allocation requests.
To read more information about the scheme, click here.
Need to speak to a Mediation Solicitor?
It is important that you seek the advice of an experienced mediation solicitor who will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on your legal rights.
To speak to one of our experienced mediation lawyers, in Brixton, regarding your separation needs, you can call us on 0207 095 5700 or make an enquiry here.