How would compulsory mediation protect children from courtroom conflict?
By Nicki Mitchell, Jones Myers Family Law Mediator and Child Inclusive Mediator
Plans to make mediation compulsory for separating couples could prevent thousands of children seeing their parents embroiled in bitter, lengthy, and costly courtroom conflicts.
As a niche family law firm which champions non-confrontational solutions that avoid going to Court, we embrace the Government’s proposal for separating couples to undertake mediation with a qualified mediator like myself to agree key issues such as arrangements for children and financial settlements.
The plan, which aims to overhaul the family justice system, would apply to all suitable low-level family court cases. It would not include cases involving claims of, or a history of, domestic violence.
Going to Court would be a last resort if parents are unable to agree a way forward.
We have witnessed time and again the detrimental, and sometimes long-lasting, impact that contentious courtroom disputes among warring parents can have on children’s physical and mental well-being.
Mediation can help separating couples to find an agreed way forward in a constructive, positive manner which prioritises children’s well-being and helps the long-term interests of all those involved in the break-up.
A qualified Mediator helps couples to discuss issues confidentially and find workable agreements more quickly and cost effectively. Giving couples control over their divorce, mediation can be completed in several meetings over a few months or, in some case, weeks.
Going to court is entirely different. If separating couples are unable to reach an agreement, a judge, who doesn’t know them or their children, will decide how their financial assets will be divided. The judge – or Magistrates – will also determine how much time each parent spend with their children and that decision is legally binding.
The compulsory mediation proposal is undergoing a 12-week consultation. More information can be accessed here.
Another positive move for separating couples sees the Government extending the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme until April 2025.
Since being launched in March 2021 in response to Covid-19, over 15,000 families have benefited from the publicity funded initiative which gives them vouchers worth £500 for mediation to help resolve their disputes.
To find out if you qualify for the scheme, visit Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Jones Myers expert mediators can assist you in this non-confrontational option which keeps communication channels open for many divorcing couples and enables them and their children to move on with their lives.
For more information on mediation or other family law issues, call our Leeds office 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office 01423 276104, or our York office on 01904 202550. Visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @helpwithdivorce