Reacting to the report of the Family Mediation Task Force
, published this week, Resolution's vice-chair, Nigel Shepherd, said:
'Resolution welcomes many of the recommendations in the report. In particular the call to abolish fault based divorce – this is something our members have consistently argued for over a long period of time. The legal necessity to apportion blame is entirely inconsistent with the work our members do to help couples resolve their disputes, and can often be a significant barrier to reaching agreement.
With regards the other recommendations, Resolution believes anything which will help people access options to help them manage the separation process with as little stress and conflict as possible is to be welcomed.
It remains to be seen whether those recommendations which have a financial implication will be adopted, given the current rhetoric about public spending. But given there appears to be a significant government underspend on family mediation, this will be a real test of whether Government is serious about helping separating couples, or whether it’s simply interested in cutting expenditure.
There is a great deal of frustration among our members that publicly-funded mediation numbers have plummeted since LASPO, and there is a welcome recognition in the report that the loss of the referral route from solicitors has created a barrier to people accessing mediation.
It’s therefore important that government recognises the crucial role that family lawyers play – particularly those who sign up to the Resolution Code of Practice – in helping separating couples reach agreement.
We’d like to have seen this addressed more directly in the recommendations, and we do have concerns that this represents a missed opportunity to address some of the problems that LASPO has caused.
This isn’t simply about mediation, of course, and we’d like to see more emphasis on other methods which can help people manage separation whether it’s through mediation, the collaborative process, arbitration or solicitor negotiation. No two couples are the same, and we want to see a system where separating couples are given as much information as possible to help them find a solution that is right for them.'
The full report is available to download