Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes has advised couples to avoid confrontational courtroom battles and use mediation to sort out disputes over their property, finances and children.
The minister announced that the government will fund more free mediation sessions.
Last year nearly two thirds of couples who attended a single mediation session for a child dispute reached a full agreement. Almost seven out of every ten couples who opted for mediation reached an agreement.
The government is carrying out several reforms to improve the family justice system following the recommendations made by the independent Mediation Task Force.
Mr Hughes announced that the government will now fund ‘one single mediation session for everyone’, if one of the parties is already legally aided. (At present only the legally aided party can have the session for free, meaning there is a cost for the other member of the couple, which can deter them from taking part).
An advisory group of experts will be set up to improve practice and make sure mediation is focussed on the best outcomes for any children involved.
“Earlier this year we introduced major reforms to the family justice system to reduce delays and keep families away from court. But this is not the end of the process. Too many families still end up in court locked in confrontational, damaging and expensive court battles,” Mr Hughes said. “We know mediation works and we want more people to make use of it.”
WATCH THE FOLLOWING SHORT ANIMATED MOVIE EXPLAINING WHAT MEDIATION IS AND HOW IT WORKS