Family Law Solicitor Suffolk – Government keen to promote mediation to keep costs of divorce down

Amanda Crowe Cropped

The government has been very keen to promote the use of mediation to keep the costs of divorce down, and to allow couples an opportunity to retain control over decisions which will affect the rest of their lives. However, it appears the message is getting lost and since cuts to legal aid took place in April 2013, many people still remain confused as to whether funding is available to assist with solicitors or mediators costs.

A recent survey carried out by shows that there have only been 665 publically funded mediation starts in November 2013 compared with 1173 in November 2012, and that between April and November 2013, the total number of mediation starts fell by just over one-third (36%) compared to the same period in 2012. They have also seen that the number of people attending Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in November 2013 has fallen by 58% year-on-year.

Mediation is a two pronged approach and any couple who are considering mediation would be well advised to also take independent legal advice prior to each mediation session, so that they can negotiate with confidence and know what proposals they want to put forward. Couples on low incomes or benefits should also investigate whether they can obtain legal aid, as this is still available for mediation. Many family solicitors are watching with hope to see whether the Government will do more to promote the use of mediation but only time will tell if more couples will take up this option and a method to resolve their difficulties on divorce.

Amanda Crowe is a family law solicitor at Barker GoteleeIpswich Solicitors.

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