The cash-strapped Coalition announced on the 10th April they would be pumping £6.5million into projects aimed at helping separated parents "put their differences aside for the sake of their children". The announcement has put mediation in the spotlight as divorcees seek to minimise the impact of their split on their children.
Rising court costs and recent cuts to legal aid are contributing to increasingly acrimonious splits, impacting on the emotional wellbeing of children, as parents decide to represent themselves in the court room. Instances of venomous testimony against an ex-partner in court are becoming commonplace, and children aren't the only ones to suffer.
Judges are wasting their valuable time in explaining protocols to self-representatives who can often fall behind on the logistics of a case, as well endangering the civility of the affair.
Successive governments have been aware of these problems for some time, and the Family Law Act of 1996 was a measure taken to encourage couples to use mediation as a way of resolving the unsavoury moments of divorce and separation. With extra funds being provided to support mediation, the efficiency of divorce cases are likely to be improved too.
Essentially, mediators help to put in place a plan for parenting that is of benefit to the whole family. Mediation, as its name would suggest, seeks to reduce the tension between the separating couple, encouraging them to work together on their primary role as parents. The Government's recent announcements will help to fund innovative projects to give parents a greater chance of mediation working for their needs. Amongst these innovations, websites and mobile apps are being used to support the mediation process.
This is one of the latest proposals to facilitate a less confrontational divorce process, and this time genuine light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Along with 6,500 other family lawyers, I am a member of Resolution, the organisation that encourages a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law matters. Although this isn't the first government decision to seek non-court based outcomes to divorce, the £6.5million funding is likely to be welcomed by the majority of family lawyers and couples separating alike.