Couples to consider family mediation before court

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Couples now have to consider family mediation before they are able to legally separate, under new laws announced in April 2014.

The reforms have come as a result of the government attempting to dissuade separating couples from applying straight to the family courts, and will affect anyone seeking a court order to resolve an issue concerning children, their finances and property.

Instead couples will be asked to attend a ‘Mediation information & Assessment Meeting’ – known as a MIAM – to first assess whether mediation is suitable for them.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Lots of people we speak to are unaware of the benefits that mediation offers over the court system.

Mediation can help you deal with the everyday aspects of your separation. This could include the splitting of your finances or deciding how you deal with your home, and it’s particularly useful if you have children and need to have an on-going relationship.

As well as being more flexible, mediation is often cheaper and more cost effective. According to the Ministry of Justice, mediated cases take an estimated 10 days to settled compared with 435 days for non-mediated.

It’s also estimate that the cost of resolving a separation using family mediation is £500, compared to £4,000 if settled through court.

If I don’t want to go to mediation, can I be excluded?

Under these new laws, there are exceptions, but they’re limited to relationships where there’s a history of domestic violence. The rules around this are complex however and you’ll need to prove a history of abuse, therefore we recommend that you speak to us for advice.

Other than this, you’ll need to prove to a judge that you’ve been to a MIAM with a qualified family mediator and the process isn’t suitable for you.

Do I qualify for legal aid?

Mediation is the one area of family law where legal aid is still available. In fact, in 2013 more than 17,000 people used publicly-funded mediation services to successfully resolve their family dispute.

Subject to you meeting certain criteria, we offer legal aid-funded mediation services. Speak to us about assessing your eligibility.

Further information

To speak to a member of the team or for further information about family mediation in Bristol, contact our family law solicitors on 0117 905 9763 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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