In April 2011 changes to the Family Court Procedures in England & Wales introduced compulsory mediation meetings in divorce proceedings. This was one of the biggest changes to this practice area for many years as it provides a single set of rules for family proceedings, which mirror the type of structure that already exists in civil proceedings.
This meant that after 6th April 2011 all couples wishing to go to Court to resolve children or property issues following a separation or divorce would be referred to mediation prior to being allowed to go to Court. The aim of this change in the rules was to reduce the number of cases that are dealt with through lengthy and expensive court proceedings and provide a more constructive way for couples to deal with disputes around children and finances.
However, whilst the changes make it compulsory to consider mediation by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting parties are not actually required to commit to the mediation process in full if they do not feel it is for them or in cases which are unsuitable for mediation, such as those involving domestic violence.
So has it proved to be a far quicker and cost effective alternative than going to Court?
At present not enough time passed, since the changes were implemented, to judge the full effect or impact of the reforms. However mediation is a tool which is surprisingly effective even for those couples where there is a stalemate, and seemingly think there is no way of resolving an issue upon which agreement needs to be reached. Mediators are specially trained to deal with such cases.
The greatest advantage to a mediated settlement is that the couple reach an agreement themselves without it being forced on them by the Court. Mediation is seen to result in a far better relationship in the future between the parties especially where children are involved.
However there is no guarantee that conflicting parties in mediation will agree to a resolution of their conflict. A strength of the Mediation Process is also its weakness. Many people prefer to use mediation to resolve their disputes because it allows them to remain in control of the outcome, rather than handing that control over to a Judge. As a result, although it is rare, it is always possible that parties will go through the time, expense and efforts of mediation, only to find that one party decides not to agree to a resolution of the dispute, which causes the whole litigation process to be even longer and more expensive.
For further information on any family law matter please contact us on 0113 244931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org