Next week is Family Mediation Week, which aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
Family mediation aims to encourage separating couples to sit down together and work out solutions to the financial and family-based issues that can be part of separation or divorce. The goal is for both partners to come to an amicable agreement which suits everyone involved, avoiding the costs – literally and figuratively – of bitter battles in court. Mediation can help to secure a far better outcome for couples and children – it tends to be quicker, less costly and less combative than resolving issues through court or solicitors.
With the number of mediation assessments in the UK decreasing by 56% between 2012 and 2014, it’s quite possible that many couples going through a separation or divorce don’t know that family mediation is an option for them, or are unaware of the advantages of mediation over its alternatives.
Family Mediation Week is organised by The Family Mediators Association and aims to raise awareness of the benefits of family mediation, and to encourage separating couples to consider family mediation as a way of helping them take control, make decisions together and build a more collaborative future for their family.
According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2013 “nearly two thirds of couples who attended a single mediation session for a child dispute reached a full agreement. Almost seven out of every ten couples who opted for mediation reached an agreement.” (Ministry of Justice Press Release published 20 August 2014)
In 2013 more than 17,000 people successfully used publicly funded mediation with only six per cent needing further legal services, compared to 21 per cent of those who didn’t use mediation. ‘Sustainability of mediation and legal representation in private family law cases: Analysis of legal aid administrative datasets, Quartermain [MoJ 2011]’
Legal aid is still available for mediation and people on a low income can receive mediation funded by the government. The new Legal Aid Agency scheme provides funding for a single mediation session for both parties even if just one of them qualifies for legal aid.