Separating parents could now be hit with a fine for refusing mediation sessions.
The government has announced it is set to make mediation sessions mandatory for separating couples with children in a bid to reduce the number of cases at the under-pressure family courts.
Mediation supports separating parents in coming to mutual agreements about their children’s living arrangements through constructive conversations.
Plans unveiled by the government are set to deter parents from choosing court proceedings to resolve family disputes.
Family law solicitor Daniel Norris said these fines and new regulations are a step in the right direction towards amicable separations.
Dan said: “Mediation is important because it allows both parties to have frank and constructive conversations, and will avoid the costly, lengthy and stressful process of going to court.”
“Mediation means that the parties will stay in full control of their agreement. In court, a judge might impose a solution that neither party is happy with.”
“It looks like moving forward there could be an increased expectation that parents give mediation a real attempt before making a court application.”
Under the plans, sessions with a qualified mediator would be part-funded by the government with a voucher worth up to £500.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said to the BBC that “lengthy and combative courtroom battles” were harmful for children and fines would help prioritise domestic abuse cases due to be heard at court.
Dan recommended couples take the time to find a mediation service they feel works best for them and their families.
He added: “Parents will need to find a mediation service they feel they can trust. We would recommend the Family Mediation Council is a good place to start.”
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