In early 2021, the Ministry of Justice launched a voucher scheme which provided a contribution of up to £500 per case/family to the mediation costs of a child arrangements case, which includes decisions in relation to where a child lives, when they spend time with each parent and when and what other types of contact take place, i.e. phone calls, Skype etc. The voucher scheme’s aim is to encourage people to seek to resolve their disputes outside of court, where appropriate to do so.
The Family Mediation Council is now working with the Ministry of Justice with the aim of extending the scheme into 2022. Resolution (which is a group of family lawyers and other professionals that promotes a non-confrontational approach to resolving family disputes) is also pressing for vouchers to be available for other types of dispute resolution. This has the aim of making a positive difference to separating couples who wish to resolve their family disputes outside of what can be costly and lengthy court proceedings.
Eligibility for the scheme is not based on an individual’s income however, the vouchers are restricted to cases where there is a private law dispute regarding a child, i.e. where a child is not in the care of a local authority, or a dispute/application regarding family financial matters where you are also involved in a private law dispute/application relating to a child. As stated above, the vouchers may become available for other types of family dispute resolution in 2022.
A MIAM is the first meeting with a mediator and provides an opportunity to tell the mediator about the situation and the issues that need to be decided. The mediator will provide information about the mediation process and other options for reaching agreement. If it is decided that mediation is not appropriate in the circumstances, then the mediator will provide a signed form which will be necessary for a court application to be made.
Mediation can be far quicker and less stressful than making a court application, so can be an efficient way of resolving disagreements and should be carefully considered by individuals where appropriate. Mediation can also be considered at any time during ongoing court proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any of the above issues or any other family matter please do not hesitate to contact Melissa Gire on email@example.com or Gemma Gillespie on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on: 01892 515022.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.