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Warning over family mediation plans

Warning over family mediation plans

Legal experts have warned that plans to use mediation in more divorce cases could unfairly disadvantage many families.

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has said he wants to see more separating couples choosing mediation to agree childcare arrangements.

But family law body Resolution said the process could be unsuitable in up to two fifths of cases, for example when either partner is abusive or uncooperative.

The organisation also warned that plans to cut legal aid by £350 million a year would create "devastating consequences" for the family courts system.

The proposal, outlined in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, is expected to face fierce opposition when the Bill reaches the House of Lords.

Resolution carried out a study of more than 13,300 legal aid proceedings involving its members and found that mediation would be inappropriate in up to 41% of cases.

Chairman David Allison welcomed Government plans to reduce the number of family cases going through the court system, but said support must be made available in cases where mediation is inappropriate.

Mr Allison said: "We are concerned that, by focusing so heavily on mediation, the Government will punish those for whom it simply won't work through no fault of their own – for example, if they have an abusive or uncooperative partner."

Our Mediation team has six ADR Group Accredited Mediators who have experience in a comprehensive range of commercial and real estate disputes. For advice, contact a member of the team, call 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.