Following a successful launch in March 2021, thousands more families look set to benefit as the government announces its plan to invest a further £800,000 into the mediation voucher scheme.
The mediation voucher scheme was designed to help more separating couples settle their divorce outside court by offering them a £500 voucher to use for mediation services, sessions that would otherwise be charged for unless one of the parties has access to the increasingly rare legal aid service.
The aim is to encourage couples to find more amicable solutions within their divorce proceedings while at the same time minimising the inevitable impact on their children and relieving some of the burden and backlog the pandemic has placed on the family courts.
Hundreds of people have already seen the benefit of the mediation voucher scheme. It’s estimated more than 130 vouchers are still being used each week. Better still, according to a study being run in tandem by the Family Mediation Council (FMC), almost three quarters of the people who have used the vouchers have able to reach either a full or partial agreement in their divorce by using mediation.
As a result, on the 28th of August the government confirmed they would invest another £800,000 in the scheme which they estimate will help up to 2000 more families.
Following the announcement Lord Wolfson QC, the UK’s Courts Minister, spoke on behalf of the government:
“Hundreds of separating couples have already benefitted from this scheme – resolving their disputes without the need for an often lengthy, costly and emotionally taxing court process. This additional funding will allow even more families to access these services, while helping to lessen the pressure on our family courts as we build back better from the pandemic.”
Aisling Collins and Bernadette Hoy, the partners in Collins & Hoy’s specialist family team and FMC accredited mediators who are signed up to participate in the scheme, agree:
“Mediation often provides a quicker, less acrimonious not to mention cheaper way of resolving the issues that all too often cause a divorce to stall. Making people more aware of mediation and making mediation more accessible and affordable must be a good thing. We think it’s fantastic the government has rewarded the initial success we’ve achieved by committing a further £800,000 to the mediation voucher scheme.”
While this announcement is obviously good news for families looking to find an alternative way to resolve the disputes that have arisen during their divorce, most notably with regards to their children’s best interests, it is not a move that had been made in isolation.
The major overhaul of the family courts that began last year remains in progress. This includes steps to provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse and a £76 million investment to improve and boost the capacity of the Family Court and tribunal systems as both continue to battle with the impact of the pandemic.
Both of our senior family partners Bernadette Hoy and Aisling Collins are still able to apply for vouchers on behalf of our eligible clients and everything is in place to make that process as simple for you as possible.
If you would like to find out whether you are eligible for a mediation voucher, all you need to do is book an initial meeting with either Bernadette or Aisling and they’ll assess whether you would qualify and if you do, we will take care of the application.
If you would like to book your initial meeting or simply find out more about how these vouchers will give you access to family mediators, please email us or call us on 020 8866 1820.