New proposal to make mediation compulsory is announced, family lawyer Gemma Sparks explains more.
As experienced family lawyers who engage with hundreds of parents each year there are many benefits of trying to avoid going through the Courts and coming to a decision yourselves as parents as to what is best.
The Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, has now proposed plans that could force separating parents to go to mediation before they can take their dispute to Court. The proposals will apply to low level family Court cases where there is no history or allegations of domestic abuse.
Plans are in the early stages of development and will be subject to a government consultation, which will run for 12 weeks, closing on 15 June. The plans build on the mediation voucher scheme that has been in place since 2021.
What is mediation?
Mediation is run by an independent trained mediator who helps parents to work out an agreement. It can also be quicker, less stressful and less expensive than going to court.
There are undoubtedly some occasions when mediation ought not to be attempted. As is the process now, these cases will be identified by the careful screening carried out by family mediators before they agree to conduct the process.
Unfortunately, the Family Courts are facing more and more backlog and, on this basis, anything that eases this pressure is a positive step and is likely to encourage parents to try and amicably find a child focused resolution. It will also allow the Family Court to focus on those families who need urgent protection such as victims of domestic abuse or where there are child protection issues.
If you are having difficulty agreeing on child arrangements, please do get in touch. Our new client call team will be able to assist either with suggestion of possible mediators or by booking a free half hour appointment with our experienced family lawyers.
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