Further to my blog ‘Government Announces up to £500 per Family Voucher Scheme’ published 22 April 2021 the Family Mediation Council (FMC) has just announced that the Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will continue to fund the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme for a further period from 1 April 2022. The length of the extension is yet to be confirmed.
This is good news for separating and divorcing couples who are struggling with the costs associated with family mediation. It must be noted however, that the scheme does not cover the cost of the initial separate Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting better known as ‘MIAM’. Parties must pay for this unless eligible for Legal Aid.
For those who are on a low income or benefits, funded mediation is available for anyone who meets the financial requirements through the Legal Aid scheme. If you don’t qualify then you will need to pay for both your MIAM and substantive mediation sessions - this will cost considerably less than lawyer led negotiations and/or court proceedings.
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme will help more families sort out issues about their financial rights and responsibilities and child arrangements away from court. In total thus far, the Government has invested a total of circa £3.3M to this initiative since its launch in March last year.
The £500 voucher aims to support a greater number of amicable divorces and separations, as well as to free up space in the backlogged family courts. The scheme’s key objective is to save divorcing and separating couples from lengthy and costly court battles, which often have a damaging impact upon their children.
Mediation is a quicker and cheaper way to resolve disputes. It involves couples working through their differences with the aid of a trained and accredited mediator to reach their own informed decisions on all or some of the issues arising out of their separation. For example, how to split assets or how to share the care of their child/ren, rather than giving over the decision-making power to a judge or bench of Magistrates.
Since launch of the scheme, more than 4,400 vouchers have already been used. Initial research from the FMC, who run the scheme, shows promising results. From the first 2,000 cases using the vouchers, more than three-quarters (77 percent) reached either a whole or partial agreement outside of court. Nearly half (49 percent) said they would not have considered mediation if the voucher had not been on offer.
The extension of the scheme bodes well with the new 'no-fault divorce' coming into fruition on 6 April 2022 that ends the toxic 'blame game' which used to end up pitching one party against the other. The new blameless divorce laws will help separating couples have amicable divorces. This will serve them, their children and future generations better allowing for healthier, happier lives post separation and divorce.
If you are curious about how mediation can help support you and your family through separation and/or divorce, you may wish to consider our FAQs page and/or book in a Free Discovery Call via are services page.
We will then get in touch with your ex-partner (unless requested not to at this stage) to encourage them to engage in the process highlighting the benefits of family mediation - low cost, staying in control and to have a quicker resolution compared to court based proceedings.