The Law Society Gazette has reported on the dire statistics released recently by the Ministry of Justice on referrals to family mediation since Legal Aid was all but abolished for family matters in April 2013.
Although the government clearly hoped that family mediation would fill the gap left by spending cuts, and assist people who could not afford to pay a lawyer for advice, there was a huge drop of 47% between April and June 2013, compared to the same period last year.
The fact is that people just don’t know about family mediation. In common with a number of family law teams, it is one of a range of services which we offer; yet when we suggest mediation to a new client looking for divorce advice the overwhelming majority have never considered it, with some believing mediation to be a form of relationship counselling (which it definitely isn’t).
Mediation is not for everyone. There are various reasons why relationships fail and the emotional baggage may prevent a former couple from ever again wanting to sit in the same room together, much less discuss post-separation arrangements for money or children.
Most cases in which I have been involved where mediation has been attempted have succeeded, at least, in narrowing the issues. Sometimes solicitor-negotiation has also been required, sometimes a court application still cannot be avoided, but the parties do at least have a clearer idea of the sticking points and which compromises may bring about a swifter resolution.
If you would like to discuss whether family mediation may be for you, contact us for a free initial discussion or meeting with one of our family law team on 0161 969 3131 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org