Two years on from its launch, the government’s family mediation voucher scheme continues to prove popular. The scheme was introduced to encourage separating families to resolve their disputes in a less confrontational way, saving time and money and keeping cases out of court.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has now announced an additional investment to further promote the scheme and extend it until March 2023. This new investment more than doubles the initial funding of the scheme since its inception and will provide an additional 10,200 vouchers to help keep families out of court.
Vouchers offer a financial contribution up to PS500 towards the cost of mediation sessions, to help people resolve their disputes over children arrangements in a less stressful and costly way. They are offered to individuals who are referred to family mediation by a solicitor or other qualified professional who has assessed them as being suitable for the scheme. Individuals must also be eligible to apply for legal aid (where applicable).
The MoJ launched the scheme in response to Covid-19, in order to support recovery of family law work in the courts and to encourage more people to consider mediation as a means of resolving their disputes, where appropriate, in regards to child arrangements. The MoJ states that a total of 13,500 families have been helped by the scheme so far.
Preliminary analysis from the Family Mediation Council (FMC), who run the scheme, shows promising results. The first 2,800 completed cases saw 65% reach full or partial agreement through mediation and away from the courts. Only three of these families could not reach an agreement and went to court.
It is thought the increased use of family mediation will help to significantly reduce the number of cases that end up in the family courts, which have become backed up following recent legal cutbacks and which are largely due to a rise in contested child arrangement applications and divorces. The reduction in the number of cases referred to the family courts will allow the family justice system to focus on adjudicating matters which have significant safeguarding concerns and domestic abuse issues, ensuring it is focused on its core business of dealing with children’s cases.
Here at Trethowans we continue to champion the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme and if you or your client are interested in using this to fund their mediation sessions please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Our team of family lawyers and accredited mediators are on hand to assist. Our family team can help with all matters involving the breakdown of a relationship, whether it is for separation or dissolution and we are very happy to advise you on the suitability of mediation as a method of dispute resolution. For more information call 0800 2800 421 or contact us here.