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The family mediation voucher scheme is designed to support parties who may be able to resolve their family law disputes outside of court.

On the back of the success of the mediation voucher scheme for separating couples, the Government has announced it will be adding a further £5.4 million in funding to help families resolve their disputes without the need to go to court, extending the scheme until March 2023.

The investment by the Government more than doubles what has gone before and is testament both to the success and benefits that mediation can offer.

More than 8,400 vouchers worth £500 each have already been used with an additional 10,200 on offer to separating couples with the aim of helping them find mutually agreeable solutions without otherwise having enter into often lengthy, costly and acrimonious courtroom battles.

Initial research from the Family Mediation Council has suggested that of the first 2,800 completed cases using the vouchers, 65% reached either a whole or partial agreement.

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a process where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps the couple work out arrangements for their children and finances where there is a dispute.

The mediator is not there to tell each side what to do, but instead help them explore possible solutions and practical ways of moving forward when a relationship has come to an end while trying to improve communication between them.

Mediation can take many forms, with the mediator working with the parties either together or separately, whether in person or through video calls and either with or without their legal advisers, to help them find a solution that works for them.

Benefits of mediation

Although mediation may not be suitable in every case, where it is the benefits can be profound both for the parties but especially children of the family.

Mediation can help protect children by removing the bitterness of parental disputes which are often amplified through the court process.

It promotes effective strategies that enable the couple to work together so they are able to achieve agreed outcomes that are tailored to their particular circumstances both in the short, medium and long term without the need for a judge decide and impose a solution for them and their family.

Mediation is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes and enables the couple to retain balanced control.

Mediation is confidential unlike proceedings in the family court.

Agreements made in mediation can be made legally binding by a court if necessary.

Who is eligible for a voucher?

Eligibility for the £500 voucher remains unchanged and continues to be available to all those who would not otherwise qualify for legal aid to put towards the cost of their mediation.

Although it is not means tested, there remain some key points to be aware of:

  1. The mediation voucher will not cover the cost of a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or the preparation of any documents.
  2. The voucher is limited to £500 per family.
  3. The vouchers are restricted to cases where there is a dispute regarding a child or children whether or not there are also financial issues to resolve.
  4. Both parties must give consent to the mediator providing necessary information to the Family Mediation Council, the governing body issuing the voucher. This will include your name, the bill for mediation services you receive from the mediator and some basic information about your case.

If you would like to discuss how mediation may be able to help you and whether you would be eligible for the voucher scheme, please contact our family mediation lawyers.