By Gemma Gillespie, Partner
The Government has launched a consultation on whether, in most situations, you must go to mediation before issuing an application to the Family Court for financial provision or child arrangements. If you do not, they are looking at costs orders being made against a person who has not made efforts to mediate.
Some people may think that it is already compulsory but it is not. At present, if there is no domestic abuse, and your case is not urgent among other reasons, then you have to attend a MIAMS – a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. This is a meeting that you can attend with a mediator to explore options to avoid an application to the court. However if, after this meeting, you elect to go to court you can still do so.
The Government is looking at tightening the rules so that you must try mediation before going to court.
The hope is that more cases will be resolved amicably through mediation, rather than through the court system which is expensive, stressful and slow. This should be better for families in that the evidence shows mediated agreements families have themselves negotiated are often more sustainable than orders imposed on parties.
The concern is that while it is excellent resources are to be channelled towards mediation in the form of the Governments Mediation Voucher Scheme, it must not mean that the Family Court System itself becomes worse for the minority of families who will still need it to be effective and robust. The statistics suggest that cases that took 26 weeks in 2015 are now taking 45 weeks to conclude, which is unacceptable for the families and more importantly the children involved.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.
Originally published on Index Digital: https://www.indexdigital.co.uk/family-matters/mandatory-mediation-in-family-cases