Mediation on the rise as couples take divorce out of courts
Instead of heading off to court to settle their divorce, separating couples now ‘cogitate, calculate and consider’ their options, according to dispute resolution specialists at National Family Mediation.
Staff there say the number of calls to their telephone helpline have more than doubled in the past year, as figures from children’s court advisory service Cafcass show big falls in numbers of people beginning private law cases in court during a similar period.
Figures from Cafcass show the number of new private law cases between April 2014 and March this year fell by almost a third, to 34,218. The National Family Mediation took an average of over 3,400 calls in each month from January and June 2015, up from 1,600 calls each month during the same period in 2014.
“The cuts to legal aid mean the routes separating couples are taking as they try to reach settlements are becoming more convoluted,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation.
“Before the legal aid cuts, solicitors would very often provide separating couples with some legal advice, and refer them to family mediation to reach vital settlements on property, finance and parenting.
“Our experience tells us people are cogitating, calculating and considering their next move. Our experts are helping more families in crisis than ever before and it’s a challenge to meet the soaring demand.”
But government statistics released last week show fewer divorcing couples are turning to mediation than before legal aid changes came in effect in 2013.
Between April 2014 and March 2015, 8,035 mediation cases were started, down from 13,609 in 2012-13. However the data did show that the number of mediation starts rose in the first half of this year, totalling 2,336, up 33 per cent from the same period last year.
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