The scheme offers vouchers up to the value of £500 to couples who are using mediation to resolve issues relating to their children. The vouchers cannot be used to fund the initial mediation and assessment meeting (MIAM) – the first meeting at which couples learn about mediation and how it might be able to help them – and they cannot be used where a person is already using legal aid to fund their mediation. However, if one of the couple is entitled to legal aid and the other one is not, the latter can apply for the £500 voucher. The vouchers can only be used where people are using mediators who are accredited by the Family Mediation Council (FMCA).
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.”
Bradie Pell, partner and head of Graysons’ family team said:
“This is an excellent scheme to help those people who want to use mediation, which is often considered the best route to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to resolve disputes arising from separation, such as those relating to children and finances. With mediation, it’s possible to remain amicable and keep some control of your negotiations. You set the agenda, rather than a court where it is in the hands of the judge.
However, it’s important to remember that mediators cannot give legal advice. You can bring a mediation summary provided by your mediator to our solicitors at Graysons in order to obtain independent legal advice alongside your mediation. We can discuss your options based on the information given, point you in the right direction for your individual circumstances and provide a legally binding document should you require it. As with all forms of ADR, both parties need to obtain separate and independent legal advice.”
Author: Bradie Pell