The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a Family Mediation Voucher Scheme which will provide contributions of up to £500 per case/family to help resolve issues relating to children following parental separation.
The voucher scheme aims to encourage people to resolve their disputes outside of court wherever possible and is open to mediation participants who attend a MIAM.
Originally the result of a £1 million investment by the UK government into family mediation, funding of the scheme has since been extended. The Ministry of Justice has recently announced that the total amount of funding that it will invest in the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme for the financial year 2022/2023 is £5.4m.
Access to the family mediation vouchers is not determined by the financial means of the applicant, although payment must be made directly to an accredited family mediator by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) which is administering the scheme on behalf of the MoJ.
Family Mediator at Steele Raymond Michelle Bettell commented on the scheme:
“This scheme was originally conceived as a response to the current court backlogs in children cases. The Ministry of Justice says that research suggests that more than 70 per cent of those using mediation services will resolve their issues outside of the courtroom.”
“The initiative will help to divert cases better suited to mediation away from the family courts system, which has come under increasing pressure as a result of the pandemic. Where children are concerned, it is always best if parents can work together but sometimes, for whatever reason, parents may need a helping hand. This can be achieved at mediation with parents maintaining control of the process and the decisions made in relation to their child.
“In addition to this initial investment, the government’s intention is to use information gathered regarding the uptake of mediation to help inform decisions about further financial contributions outside of the legal aid scheme.”
It is important to note that not all mediation cases fall within the scope of the scheme which is only eligible for mediations which:
The voucher scheme states that only one voucher may be used per family (not per party or family member) and is explicitly a one-off contribution by the MoJ.
“Alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, are increasingly important in modern family law, particularly in the context of separated parents.
“It is encouraging that the MoJ is financially supporting families who are engaging in mediation in respect of their children. The technically astute and experienced Steele Raymond family mediation team is proud to be at the forefront of this scheme.”
As is the central aim of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, resolving family disputes outside of court is the main benefit to mediation. Avoiding court proceedings is often cheaper, simpler and far less stressful than proceeding through the courts.
When given the opportunity to discuss potentially contentious matters with the assistance of an independent and experienced mediator, many couples find it easier to come to an agreement in a civilised manner and in a way which will help all those involved to move on quickly from what is often a difficult and emotional time of life. Find out more about our family mediation services >
If you would like to discuss your legal options with our family mediators in Bournemouth, please contact Michelle Bettell on 01202 294 566 or email [email protected].
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