The number of couples feeling the emotional pain and financial cost of fighting a divorce in the courts may be about to fall, as the UK government introduces a new law requiring mediation to be the first option in a separation.
From 6th April this year, couples without any risk of domestic abuse or need for child protection will have to attend mediation to try to resolve their dispute before the case is allowed to go to court.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said that mediation was a “quicker, cheaper and more amicable alternative” to family courts.
Couples receiving legal aid already benefit from mediation, yet those who fund their own divorce could be missing out on more beneficial and cheaper alternative to court.
Though mediation will still require the consent of both parties before it goes ahead, it’s hoped that many more people will take advantage of this.
Not everyone is convinced the new proposals will work.
Law Society president Linda Lee said, “As a matter of course any lawyer aims for an agreed solution through negotiation because going to court is stressful and expensive. This is not always possible and, in some cases, the court is the only appropriate way of resolving the problems.”
She added, “The government is creating a myth that mediation is a panacea in order to justify cuts to legal aid which will take areas such as this, where people desperately need advice out of scope.”
The law will affect couples in England and Wales.
Mediation won’t help the increasing number of people living in abusive relationships with little choice of escape due to the current financial climate. These cases would still need to be referred to a court.
Do you think this new requirement for mediation is a good thing?