Government response on mediation 'disappointing'

20 Aug 2014

Today Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes announced the Government's response to the Family Mediation Taskforce Report. The measures announced include funding for a free mediation session for couples where at least one party is eligible for legal aid.

Resolution chair Jo Edwards responds to the announcement, saying:

"Whilst we welcome today’s announcement that more mediation sessions will be funded by Government, these measures will only help those where at least one person is eligible for legal aid and the case is suitable for mediation. Mediation is not a suitable route for everyone and it’s important to remember that most couples need more than one session to reach agreement.

We know mediation numbers have dropped since the cuts to family legal aid, so we hope this measure will help some people separate in a way that minimises conflict. However, we do not expect this to have a significant impact on the number of couples resolving their disputes out of court.

We call on Government to allocate funding to allow separating couples to understand their legal situation, explore the options available to them and support other dispute resolution processes in addition to mediation which may be more suitable for a wider number of people.

We’re disappointed that there are no plans to review marriage or divorce law in this Parliament, in particular fault-based divorce. The legal necessity to apportion blame remains a huge barrier to couples resolve their disputes and can make it difficult for people to settle their differences without recourse to the courts. We hope that a future Government, whatever its composition may be, will address this pressing issue."