Due to its initial success, the family mediation voucher scheme was extended in March 2022 with the government pledging an additional £1.3m to help even more families resolve legal issues outside court. However, some are still unaware of the scheme or unsure as to whether they are eligible for family mediation vouchers.
The family mediation scheme provides a £500 voucher for couples who would not otherwise qualify for Legal Aid to put towards the cost of their mediation.
It has been launched on the back of the growing popularity of mediation. Mediation is now helping more and more families resolve the many issues that arise during a separation more quickly, more cost-effectively and – crucially – away from court in a less confrontational and more comfortable environment.
Although the voucher is readily available for those who qualify, there are a few things to bear in mind:
According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice the scheme has been a success. More than 4,400 vouchers were issued during the first 12 months of the scheme. 77% of the cases they were used in have reached full or partial agreements and 49% of those who applied said they wouldn’t have considered mediation if the voucher hadn’t been made available.
But, despite these encouraging figures, there are still questions over both awareness and eligibility.
Once you have attended your MIAM, a trained mediator will assess whether the issues you are looking to resolve are suitable for mediation and meet the requirements of the scheme. Not all cases are eligible under the scheme, but the following are:
– A dispute/application regarding a child.
– A dispute/application regarding family financial matters in cases involving a dispute/application relating to a child.
If the issues you are trying to resolve relate solely to reaching your financial remedy, you are not eligible for a voucher.
It is also essential that both parties are willing to take part in a mediation. This means that if your case is eligible, both you and your partner will need to agree to mediate.
If you do both agree to use mediation and your case is eligible for a voucher, your mediator will make the application. The voucher will then be paid directly to them once all mediation sessions have been concluded.
Another question we are often asked is whether £500 will cover to total cost of a mediation.
This will depend on the rates set by your mediator and how many sessions are required. The vouchers were designed to contribute towards your mediation sessions rather than covering the total cost. You need to be prepared for the likelihood that you will need to make a personal contribution.
If you would like to find out more about family mediation or have any other questions regarding your relationship or family, please contact our fully qualified and hugely experienced mediators [email protected] or [email protected].