Family mediators are calling for more practical information and support for divorcing and separating couples after a recent survey by the Family Mediators Association revealed that couples are struggling to access the information they need to help them make informed decisions about their family and financial issues, with up to 38% of people unaware that there are more ways to resolve these issues than going to court or using a solicitor.
The poll, conducted by YouGov in support of Family Mediation Week, revealed that people’s satisfaction with the resolution of their issues is related to their access to information about their options – survey participants who were happiest with the outcome of their separation were those with the best access to information about the options available to them.
Nationally, 49% of respondents reported that they felt positive about the outcome of their separation; this rose in areas where participants had the best access to information, but fell in parts of the UK where participants were unaware there were other options available. Nationwide, 15% of people were unaware that there were methods of resolution other than lawyers or court available, which rose to an astonishing 38% among younger respondents.
Additionally, the survey revealed that almost a quarter of separating or divorcing couples pick a method for resolving their issues because it was the cheapest option available to them, but that few couples are aware how the costs of different resolution methods actually compare. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that mediation tends to be far less expensive than many of its alternatives, but only 2% of respondents reported that they used a family mediation service compared to a total of 35% negotiating through court or solicitors, showing that couples aren’t always aware there is a cheaper alternative.
In light of these results, family mediators are calling for increased availability of practical information and support for separating couples trying to decide how to divide their assets or organise time with their children.
Beverley Sayers, chair of the Family Mediators Association, says: “This research reinforces what many of us in the mediation profession are experiencing on a daily basis. People simply aren’t aware of the options available to them when they separate or divorce, but – as the research findings show – people who make informed decisions based on information and knowledge are generally happier with the outcome of their separation.
“That is precisely why we are supporting Family Mediation Week, which has a single aim: to increase awareness of the benefits of mediation for separating families, to help more people make informed choices about the resolution methods that are best for them and avoid having decisions imposed on them by the courts.”
Running from January 11th-15th, Family Mediation Week aims to empower divorcing and separating couples to make the best decisions for themselves and their families through improving transparency, education, and availability of information. Throughout the week, family mediators will organise initiatives and resources for the public to help raise awareness of family mediation. These include blogs, videos and online resources on the Family Mediation Week website, as well as events and drop-in sessions run by family mediation professionals across the UK.
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About the Family Mediators Association (FMA)
The Family Mediators Association is a membership organisation for family mediators. Formed in 1988, it currently represents almost 400 trained family mediators in England and Wales. Its members are professional family mediators trained to a high standard from a wide range of different backgrounds, including family counsellors, lawyers, financial specialists and experts in child development. www.thefma.co.uk
About family mediation
Family mediation is a process that enables separating couples to negotiate face-to-face about the arrangements for their future with the help of a qualified, skilled and experienced third party.
Family mediation is confidential, voluntary and impartial. All of the decisions made during family mediation are made by the couple themselves. It provides families with a structured and safe way of resolving their differences at their own pace, with guidance from a trained professional and encourages them to focus on the needs of children and to take into account everything that individual family members believe to be important.
Family mediation can be used effectively by separating couples and families of all types, including cohabiting or same-sex couples.