The mediation voucher scheme is being expanded to help thousands more separating couples resolve disputes without having to go to court.
The scheme, launched by the Government in March, provides a £500 voucher for mediation services with the aim of finding amicable solutions to disagreements. It seeks to spare eligible families the trauma of going through often lengthy and costly courtroom battles, which can have a damaging impact on children.
Hundreds of people have already accessed this vital support with around 130 vouchers currently being used every week. Early data from the Family Mediation Council (FMC), which runs the programme, has shown that up to three-quarters of participants have been helped to reach full or partial agreement on their dispute.
An additional £800,000 is now being made available to expand the scheme – almost doubling an initial £1 million investment made earlier this year and helping around 2,000 more families.
Information about the scheme and how it works is provided to parties at their Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), which all those involved in family cases are required to attend, unless they have a valid exemption.
On attendance of a MIAM, a trained mediator will assess the issues which you seek to resolve to see if they are suitable for mediation and meet the eligibility requirements for the voucher scheme.
Not all cases are eligible under the scheme. The case types specified below are eligible for a mediation voucher:
• a dispute/application regarding a child
• a dispute/application regarding family financial matters where you are also involved in a dispute/application relating to a child.
It is important to remember that mediation is only an option when both people agree to take part in it, so you and the other person will need to agree to mediate.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.