Compulsory mediation has been proposed for ‘low level’ family disputes

Mediation could become compulsory for separating parents under plans unveiled by the government in March 2023 to keep more family disputes away from court.

The Ministry of Justice proposes to make mediation compulsory for all ‘suitable low-level’ family court cases. Cases involving allegations or a history of domestic abuse would be excluded.

The cost of mediation in relation to child arrangement cases will be fully funded. The department will seek views on whether finance remedy cases, such as divorce, should be funded under legal aid thresholds.

The ministry also proposes giving judges the power to order parents to make a reasonable attempt to mediate. Financial penalties could be imposed on parents deemed to be acting unreasonably and harming a child’s wellbeing by prolonging court proceedings.

The family mediation voucher scheme, set up in 2021, will be extended until April 2025.

By making mediation compulsory, the Government estimates up to 19,000 separating families will resolve their issues away from court. 

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