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More £500 mediation vouchers for separating couples

Written by: Emma Lunn
Thousands more separating parents will avoid stressful courtroom battles due to help from the government’s family mediation scheme.

The government has invested an extra £1.3m into the scheme, tripling the government’s initial investment when the scheme launched in March 2021.

About 4,400 vouchers already used to resolve disputes such as those involving financial or contact arrangements for children. Today’s funding will provide 2,440 additional vouchers for mediation services – each worth £500 – with the aim of finding amicable solutions to couples’ disagreements and freeing up space in the family courts.

Mediation is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes. It involves couples working through their differences – led by a trained and accredited mediator – to reach agreements they are both prepared to accept, such as how to split assets or arrange child contact times, rather than have a judge decide for them.

Dominic Raab, secretary of state for justice, said: “I want to see children and their parents spared the stress and conflict of the courtroom as much as possible, and I’m delighted that thousands more will now have the opportunity to resolve their disputes in less combative way.

“At the same time, it will free up vital capacity in the family courts to ensure the system can recover quickly from the pandemic.”

Initial research from the Family Mediation Council (FMC), who run the scheme, shows promising results. Of the first 2,000 cases using the vouchers, more than three-quarters (77%) reached either a whole or partial agreement outside of court. Nearly half (49%) say they would not have considered mediation if the voucher had not been on offer.

The extra funding will be confirmed by Justice Minister Lord Wolfson tomorrow in a virtual speech to accredited mediators, marking the start of Family Mediation Week.

In total the government has invested just short of £3.3m into the scheme, following the initial £1m at launch and an additional £800k in August. The extra money will allow the initiative to run until the end of March.

If a case is eligible for vouchers, the mediator will automatically claim back the contributions from government.

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