The government has today announced proposals to make mediation mandatory in “all suitable low-level family court cases excluding those which include allegations or a history of domestic violence”. This means separating couples will need work with a trained mediator to agree child custody and financial arrangements out of court where at all possible. Under the plans, the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme will be extended offering separating partners up to £500 towards mediation costs.
Aidan Jones, Chief Executive at Relate said:
“We welcome the government’s proposals which could see more separating families accessing mediation and settling their differences out of court. A wealth of evidence shows that frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict is damaging for children’s mental health and outcomes in life whether the parents are together or apart. That is why dragging things through the court system is rarely in the best interests of children. It also puts pressure on family courts and usually comes at a high financial and emotional cost to separating partners.
"It is right that mediation forms part of the solution and this service must be properly funded so that families on low incomes have access to it. Ultimately we would like to see a holistic, wraparound system of support for family relationships before, during, and beyond separation which includes mediation, counselling, information and self-help.”
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Notes to editors:
• Relate is the largest provider of relationship support In England and Wales.
• We’re here for every relationship – from romance to roommates, from colleagues to co-parents.
• Our services include relationship counselling, family counselling, sex therapy, mediation and online self-help. You can access many of our services together or as an individual via webcam, phone, email or face-to-face.
• We’re an inclusive organisation and actively welcome people of all ages, backgrounds, relationship styles, faiths, religions, sexual orientations and genders.
• Relate is a registered charity number 207314.
• Millions of people every year access information, support and counselling from Relate but many more could benefit.
• For more information visit: Relate.org.uk.