Family law experts at Taylor&Emmet LLP are welcoming the extension of funding that will allow more couples from across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire to access mediation.
The Ministry of Justice has made a further £5.4 million available, in vouchers up to the value of £500, for participants in family mediation who are not eligible for legal aid.
Dawn Lowry, a family law expert at Taylor&Emmet’s Rotherham office and qualified mediator, said: “We are really pleased that this scheme, which was launched last year, is being extended following its initial success. I have assisted a number of separating couples who have benefited from the funding and have successfully used the mediation process to make arrangements for children. Hopefully, it will now assist many more.”
Free mediation is available to individuals who qualify for legal aid, however, if their partner is funding the mediation privately, they are responsible for their fees from the second session onwards, which can cause disengagement. Using the voucher scheme, the private client can access additional funding, allowing them to continue with the process. In some circumstances, this may mean another two or three mediation sessions can be undertaken before payment is required and, in many cases, this would be sufficient to resolve the issues.
The voucher scheme is being coordinated by the Family Mediation Council and is accessible to all its accredited mediators. In cases where both parties are funding a separation privately, pre-mediation meetings, MIAMs, would be payable at £120 each, before the voucher could be applied. This should then fund two sessions, or one longer meeting, as required.
Dawn added: “Mediation has always been a cost-effective, quicker and less stressful alternative to court proceedings and this voucher scheme has made it even more so. So far, two thirds of cases nationally have reached full or partial agreements away from court and the most recent injection of funding will enable another 10,200 people to benefit.”