News has emerged of an additional £5.4 million investment in a mediation voucher scheme, to support families with resolving their legal issues outside of court where appropriate. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Justice during early 2021, whereby a contribution of up to £500 per case is awarded towards the cost of mediation for eligible families across England and Wales.
Family mediation is a process where a qualified mediator helps to work through arrangements between two (or more) participants, particularly concerning children, finance, or property. The mediator is trained professional there to help work through disagreements and find solutions that work for both parties. Only mediators authorised by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) are permitted to taking part in the voucher scheme.
More About the Scheme
The voucher scheme was developed in 2021 and is currently run by the Family Mediation Council on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. According to the MoJ, 8,400 vouchers have already been used since March last year, with a promising 65% of these cases, either reaching a whole or partial agreement.
The Family Mediation Council have stated that the voucher scheme extension will allow around 10,200 more families to be helped across 2022-23. However, Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society noted that more needs to be done in order reduce the long-awaited backlog of new family cases to be heard. Boyce also added: “The cases that go to court are often complex and may not be suitable for mediation. So, while we welcome the government’s efforts to steer clients away from court via mediation, this is just one remedy of many that are needed to address the backlog of cases.”
John Taylor, chair of the Family Mediation Council, commented: “The funding is encouraging people to access mediation instead of applying to court, and much more often than not results in separated parents agreeing arrangements for children and related financial issues without having to go to court.” He added “the voucher scheme also brings financial savings for the government as people do not need to go to court, but the main benefit is that it results in happier, healthier children and families.”
A Break-Down of the £500 Voucher
- The £500 is redeemable towards the client’s joint mediation appointment(s)
- Vouchers are not means tested – they are available to anyone with parenting issues to resolve
- Can be claimed when discussing child arrangements, specific issues (such as going on a holiday) or grandparent access
- Any unused voucher balance can be carried over onto finances if yours is an all-issues case
- Mediate UK apply for the voucher on your behalf. You just need to confirm you wish us to apply.
- 90% of clients reach an agreement through family mediation
- Any agreement reached can be made legally binding
- Meetings can be held in person or online
- You don’t have to be on the same screen or in the same room as each other