I blogged a few weeks ago about a wonderful resource from Cafcass called the Separated Parents Information Programme. This programme and its accompanying brochure is a mine of information on a range of issues, mostly but not exclusively related to children and how they are affected by separation.
Among the many topics covered is that of family mediation and whether or not it is a viable alternative to court. I thought it was a good issue to pick up on bearing in mind the Family Justice Review at the moment and the likelihood that legal aid for divorce cases will be severely curtailed, if not got rid of all together. This “clampdown” on legal aid will save the public purse around £300 million a year, according to reports, across divorce, employment issues, medical malpractice, and some personal injury and consumer cases.
Family mediation helps parents talk to each other in a structured way and reach agreement on issues, including where appropriate those affecting the children. This can help cut the amount of time they need to spend in court, cutting the cost of the divorce process and, probably, the time overall to reach an agreement.
It can be a more constructive way of reaching agreement. Parties can have appropriate representation who can help steer the discussion and create a more progressive environment rather than a combative one.
Mediation employs a qualified mediator to move things forward, something that might not happen in a court environment.
It's claimed it can:
- Help focus on finding constructive solutions
- Improve parents’ communication skills
- Bring in an impartial advisor to reach agreement
- Aid parents in planning how to bring up their children.
Seeing an ex across a court room and then trying to reach an adult solution about access to the children, for instance, can be a recipe for disaster. Being put in such a cauldron, perhaps with the other party having an over-zealous legal advisor, can lead to accusations flying backward and forward and no way forward found. Family mediation can promote discussion in a more tranquil atmosphere.
With the changes in legal aid imminent, will family mediation or divorce insurance be the most cost effective ways to move forward for couples going through divorce or separation?
Read more: Family mediation in divorce