Thousands of children could avoid seeing their parents embroiled in bitter, lengthy, and costly courtroom conflicts following a proposal to make mediation compulsory for separating couples.
We wholeheartedly welcome the Government’s plan for separating couples to undertake mediation with a qualified mediator like myself to agree key issues such as arrangements for children and financial settlements.
The proposal, which aims to overhaul the family justice system, would apply to all suitable low-level family court cases. It would not include cases involving claims of, or a history of, domestic violence.
Going to Court would be a last resort if parents are unable to agree a way forward.
We have witnessed time and again the detrimental, and sometimes long-lasting, impact that contentious courtroom disputes among warring parents can have on children’s physical and mental well-being.
Mediation can help separating couples to find an agreed way forward in a constructive, positive manner which prioritises children’s well-being and helps the long-term interests of all those involved in the break-up.
A qualified Mediator helps couples to discuss issues confidentially and find workable agreements more quickly and cost effectively. Giving couples control over their divorce, mediation can be completed in several meetings over a few months or, in some case, weeks.
Going to court is entirely different. If separating couples are unable to reach an agreement, a judge, who doesn’t know them or their children, will decide how their financial assets will be divided. The judge – or Magistrates – will also determine how much time each parent spend with their children and that decision is legally binding.
The compulsory mediation proposal is undergoing a 12-week consultation. More information can be accessed here.
Another positive move for separating couples sees the Government extending the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme until April 2025.
Since being launched in March 2021 in response to Covid-19, over 15,000 families have benefited from the publicity funded initiative which gives them vouchers worth £500 for mediation to help resolve their disputes.
To find out if you qualify for the scheme, visit Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
About Nicki Mitchell
With extensive experience in family law, Nicki specialises in the financial aspects of relationship breakdown – and particularly complex cases involving family businesses, multiple properties, and complicated pension arrangements.
A skilled mediator and collaborative family lawyer, Nicki has recently further enhanced her extensive expertise by becoming a child-inclusive mediator. The accreditation enables her to who meets with children of separated parents and hear what they want for their future.
About Jones Myers
Jones Myers is a niche, multi award-winning family law firm based in Leeds, Harrogate, and York
The practice, founded in 1992, has retained its Family Law Firm of the Year North title in the Family Law Awards across 2020-2022 for its outstanding quality of service to clients.
For over two decades the firm has been consistently ranked in a joint Top Tier position by the Legal 500 and Chambers guides alongside national practices.
The Financial Remedies Department acts for clients on divorces, pensions issues, trust work and pre-and post-nuptial agreements.
The Children’s Department delivers every aspect of public and private children law. Managing national and international issues, it specialises in private residence and contact disputes, care proceedings, adoption work, special guardianships, relocations, and education matters.
Jones Myers lawyers are acknowledged leaders in their field and include mediators, collaborative experts, and an in-house barrister.
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