6 out of 10 separating couples opt to go straight to court
It has been three years since it became compulsory for separating couples to prove to the Court that they have considered all other forms of alternative dispute resolution before making their application for financial remedy on divorce or in respect of arrangements for children. The party wishing to make the application to Court must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) so that all forms of dispute resolution can be explored. If the mediator agrees that there is no other option but to go to Court, they will countersign the court application form.
However, it has emerged that only four out of ten are complying with the landmark legislation. Figures obtained by National Family Mediation show that in 2016 over 60% of couples ignored that requirement. Of nearly 90,000 applications for private law proceedings to a family court, only 35,627 had followed the MIAM process.
Court should only ever be seen as the last resort given the timescale of proceedings and the high levels of costs involved. Mediation and other forms of dispute resolution can enable and empower families to take control over their own destiny, rather than handing it over to a family court judge. For anyone experiencing a family breakdown or difficulties in the arrangements for children, Barker Gotelee’s family solicitors can offer advice and support on all the options available to try and resolve matters.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.