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Importance of Family Mediation recognised by new Government voucher scheme

View profile for Sam Miles
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For separating or divorcing couples, making life changing decisions will be part of the process of starting a new life, however this can not always be achieved amicably.  Agreeing on arrangements for your children or your financial matters will be difficult and Family Mediation may be the answer to coming to a resolution you are both satisfied with.  The Government last week announced a £1million investment into Family Mediation, recognising the significant benefits of this form of conciliation.  Sam Miles, Resolution trained Family Mediator, explains more here about the scheme, why we are taking part and how Family Mediation could be the answer you are looking for.

What is the Government Family Mediation Voucher scheme?

Under the scheme announced by the Government on 26th March 2021, the Ministry of Justice will provide contributions of up to £500 per family, to resolve issues relating to children following parental separation. Mediation will be provided by Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA) mediators and the fund will reduce the costs of mediation for at least 2,000 families.

John Taylor, Chair of the Family Mediation Council said, “This government investment in mediation is much welcomed by the Family Mediation Council. It will help separated families agree solutions that are best for their children, taking into account what is going to be important for them as they grow up.  Family Mediation is a proven cost-effective way to resolve differences following separation. This voucher scheme will make it even more accessible, and will help families resolve issues for themselves, without having to go to Court.”

What is Family Mediation?

One of the most common myths faced by Family Mediators is that Family Mediation is a form of reconciliation between the two parties; however this is not the case.  Family Mediation is used as an independent service for after you have made the decision to separate or divorce and to assist you in reaching agreements when you cannot do so yourself.  The ending of a relationship will of course bring many challenges and there will be a variety of considerations, such as arrangements for the family home, where your children may live, how the finances will be separated, and much more. 

In addition to this initial misconception of Mediation, some may also assume that the only way to reach a final conclusion on these matters is to go to Court and have a Judge make a ruling.  Again, this is not the case.  Family Mediation, in the majority of cases, is a required step to take before applying to the Courts, with a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) used to determine whether Mediation could be a viable route to reach agreement without the perhaps unnecessary Court application. 

Several areas of discussion can be agreed in Mediation including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Arrangements for your children:
    • How they will spend their time with each of you
    • Where they will live
    • Contact with wider family members
  • Financial matters:
    • Child maintenance payments
    • The sale of any family property
    • Pension sharing
    • Distribution of any savings or paying off any debts

The success of Family Mediation comes from the very nature of the meetings; each party is allowed the time and space to voice their views with an independent third party in attendance who has been specifically trained to manage the sessions, not taking sides and exploring all options with you both and the consequences of such decisions.

Sam concludes, “We are delighted that the Government has taken this step towards supporting the practice of Family Mediation.  We have been offering this as a service for many years and have seen countless times the benefits that far outweigh the stress and costly process of applying to Court.  Of course, Mediation won’t be suitable in all cases which the MIAM will determine, but where we are able to assist we strive to reach a conclusion that both parties and any children involved are content and able to move on.  The fact that this voucher scheme has been launched will help many families across the country access this service who may not have been able to before.”

To contact Sam to discuss whether Family Mediation may be a possible route for you and your family arrangements, you can call us today on 023 8071 7431 or email mediation@warnergoodman.co.uk. Alternatively, you may find the following resources useful:

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.