A new initiative to provide free family mediation will give
many couples in England and Wales a vital new tool to resolve their own problems
after they separate, rather than relying on high-fee divorce solicitors, says
the largest provider of family mediation.
A new government-funded
scheme, effective today, will fund a free mediation session
for both people involved in a separation even if just one qualifies for legal
aid. Previously, only the
legally aided person was entitled to have the session for free, and the other
person had to pay.
Jane Robey, Chief Executive of National Family Mediation
'We know from 30 years’ experience
that family mediation works and provides lasting solutions, with full agreements
being reached in seven out of ten cases – without the need for a courtroom
drama,” says Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes
'Getting people into the
mediation room with open minds can be amongst the biggest challenges,” she adds.
“Confidence in the process blossoms as people start to understand and accept that family
mediation can help them shape their family’s future in an affordable way.
'This new scheme can help
thousands of people across England and Wales take a vital first step to unlock
an understanding of what family mediation can achieve. Mediation puts families
in control of their post-separation future instead of handing it over to family courts. It’s a
much quicker, less confrontational and a more cost effective way of settling
'Separating people are often
reluctant to pay for family mediation, especially so when they know the other
person – their ex – is getting it for free. They rarely understand exactly what
they will be paying for and, are quite apprehensive about coming since mediation
is usually an unknown quantity, they are unsure it will
met NFM mediators during
a visit to its head office last week and heard how the new scheme means demand
for the service is likely to increase.
'We know mediation works and we are committed to making sure more people
use it rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of
court. That is why we are funding single mediation sessions for both parties if
one of them is already legally aided.'
Demand for the NFM telephone helpline (0300 4000 636
during 2014, taking an average of 2,300 calls a month since April, when a
change in the law made it compulsory for people who are seeking a
post-separation court order to first attend a mediation awareness