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  • Writer's pictureAustin & Carnley Solicitors

Compulsory Mediation for Separating Couples Scrapped

Following a response to a 2023 paper, the Ministry of Justice (the MoJ) have stopped its plans to make mediation compulsory for separating couples in England and Wales.

Instead of the compulsory mediation, the MoJ are encouraging couples to get early legal advice. They aim to create a region-specific pilot programme for couples having trouble agreeing on their child’s living arrangements. This pilot will aim to provide funded legal access to the early legal advice, improving the information available to parents and carers. In turn this will help them to make better informed decisions surrounding their dispute, thus possibly leading to improved outcomes.

Other elements are also being reconsidered and discussed. The MoJ launched a private law finder pilot which looks to improve information sharing between agencies like the local authorities, the courts and the police. This pilot aims to allow judges to review information gathered and request further information prior to cases reaching the court stage. This pilot started in 2022 to courts located in North Wales, Dorset to South-East Wales and Birmingham, with the intention of later rolling out to all courts nationally.

The Law Society has welcomed the decision to drop compulsory mediation in order to combat the negative outcome of disputes that mediation can sometimes carry. Making mediation voluntary allowed victims of domestic abuse to be referred to the appropriate services.

Despite mandatory mediation being scrapped, it can still be an extremely useful tool in coming to an agreement outside of court. This then saves parties time and money, removing the possible expense of barristers and the agonising wait for a court hearing. The MoJ offer a mediation voucher which has helped thousands of families to access mediation and attempt to resolve disputes away from court.

At Austin & Carnley, we can offer that early legal advice suggested by the MoJ and continue to guide you through the process of mediation and court hearings. We can act as your middle man and avoid the unnecessary communication between separating couples. Please call reception on 01525 370140 to arrange an appointment with one of our family solicitors.



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