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The government has invested £1 million in a family mediation scheme designing to offer financial support to people seeking to resolve issue related to children through mediation. Family mediation is a cooperative process whereby a couple whose relationship is ending, or has ended, take part in discussions with a view to making decisions about and arrangements for the future. These discussions are facilitated by a professionally-trained mediator and can focus on parenting, property and finances. The scheme encourages parties, where appropriate, to settle disputes outside of the family courts in a collaborative and non-confrontational manner.
The scheme provides a voucher for a contribution towards mediation costs of up to £500 per case or family. Eligible issues are disputes relating to children – such as contact arrangements – and can include financial discussions when there are also discussions surrounding arrangements for children.
To qualify for the scheme, participants must attend a first meeting with a Family Mediation Council (FMC) accredited mediator, which is referred to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This lasts for around an hour, and allows a preliminary discussion of the issues in question. At the conclusion of the MIAM, the mediator will advise whether your case is suitable for mediation and the alternatives to mediation to resolve matters.
They will also assess your eligibility for the voucher scheme and how many sessions of mediation your issue is likely to require. Eligibility is not based on income or other financial assessment, and vouchers are available to both those who qualify for legal aid (which would also cover the cost of a MIAM) and those who do not. It is worth noting that, for non-legally aided parties, if resolution takes a greater number of sessions than the £500 covers, you will have to pay for mediation costs in excess of the voucher contribution. Additionally, for those parties the voucher does not cover the cost of the MIAM.
There are a limited number of vouchers available under the scheme, and your mediator will be able to tell you if any are available. Should you meet the eligibility requirements and decide to proceed with mediation, your mediator will apply directly for funding under the scheme, which will be paid to them following conclusion of all sessions.
You can search for Family Mediation Council accredited mediators in your area here.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles