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'Ministers are right to seek culture change so that mediation becomes the first port of call for divorcing couples.The new legal aid mediation data for January to March 2015, issued by the Ministry of Justice, shows that whilst the number of mediation starts is up on previous quarters, it has not yet returned to the higher levels before the introduction of 2013’s LASPO Act. It also shows a decline in the national success rate of mediation compared with the same quarter in 2014.
Family court judges must be more willing to embrace mediation, using the powers they already have to direct people who come before courts towards alternative means of settling disputes.
We need Ministers to bang the drum for mediation, and to join up with other government departments to do so. For the past year the Department for Work and Pensions has been funding NFM’s pilot ‘at court mediation’ project, which helps parents who have been separated for more than two years and are currently in the family court system to suspend legal proceedings and meet specialist mediators to negotiate long-term arrangements for children, property and finance.
The successful project shows that couples who have become entrenched in conflict can, with the right help, find an exit from the courtroom drama and move on in a positive way.
Judges across the country need to learn from this project and follow suit. It’s an ace that can be played to help salvage the attainment of government Ministers’ ailing objective.'
An authoritative and practical guide which not only explains the principles and process of family...