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UK Government abandons divorce mandatory mediation

UK Government abandons divorce mandatory mediation


The government is set to launch a pilot program for early legal advice, catering specifically to parents and caregivers navigating challenges in agreeing on child arrangements

In response to the March 2023 consultation on supporting the earlier resolution of private family law arrangements, the government made key commitments:

  1. No Mandatory Mediation: The government will not enforce mandatory mediation for separating couples, recognizing potential negative impacts on dispute outcomes.

  2. Early Legal Advice Pilot: A new pilot program on early legal advice will be initiated, addressing the unique needs of couples, particularly those with children, going through the stressful process of separation.

  3. Pathfinder Pilot Extension: The private law Pathfinder pilot, initially launched to test innovative approaches, will be extended to South-East Wales and Birmingham, with plans for a national rollout across all courts.

The Law Society's Vice President, Richard Atkinson, expressed satisfaction, stating, "The government has listened to our concerns and implemented policies that will help families seeking justice." Atkinson highlighted the potential negative consequences of mandatory mediation, emphasizing the importance of voluntary participation to accommodate domestic abuse victims.

Regarding the new early legal advice pilot, Atkinson underscored its significance in addressing the emotional challenges of divorce. He stated, "It’s important that a case is heard in the right place, so they can quickly and sensitively sort out their living arrangements."

Deborah Jeff, Head of the Divorce and Family department at Simkins, praised the government's decision. She emphasized the importance of ensuring safety and power parity during mediation, expressing concerns that forced mediation may not be suitable, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse.

Deborah Jeff remarked, "The solution is to have a family justice system that works, rather than seek to divert inappropriate cases to mediation."

In conclusion, Richard Atkinson acknowledged the persistent challenges faced by the family court system, including backlogs and delays. However, he expressed hope that these new reforms would contribute to alleviating stresses for families seeking justice.

As the UK government embraces early legal advice over mandatory mediation, the focus shifts towards a more nuanced and individualized approach to family dispute resolution, prioritizing the well-being and safety of all parties involved.

Lexis+ AI