The Ministry of Justice Increases Investment in the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme

The Ministry of Justice has increased its investment in the family mediation voucher scheme to provide more families with support to resolve their legal issues. The scheme has already provided more than 8,400 vouchers worth PS500 each to assist separating couples to reach arrangements for their children and finances without the need to go to court. The increased investment announced today will enable the scheme to provide an additional 10,200 vouchers to help more families avoid lengthy, costly and acrimonious disputes and reach their own arrangements for their children.

This initiative is the latest step in a long-term government commitment to promote alternative ways of resolving disputes, such as mediation, and encourage people not to use the courts where they can avoid it. It is part of a wider drive to cut the backlog of cases waiting to be heard in the family courts, which has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic and lockdown.

Family mediation is a voluntary process where an independent mediator helps a couple to discuss their differences and reach their own arrangements for themselves and their children following separation or divorce. It is usually much quicker and cheaper than the traditional route through the court system and is a more personalised approach. Agreements reached in mediation are not legally binding but they can be put into a formal court order if required.

Since the launch of the family mediation voucher scheme in March 2021, over 15,300 families have used it to reach an arrangement for their children. In the first 2,800 completed cases, 65% reached either a whole or partial agreement away from court, which has helped to reduce the number of people going through contested court proceedings. The Ministry of Justice has now made an additional PS1.3 million available to extend the scheme until March 2023, helping many more families to find their own solutions and avoid court proceedings.

The vouchers are available to anyone who is willing to mediate and is eligible to receive financial assistance through legal aid (which is not means tested). At the initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, the mediator will discuss whether the case is suitable for voucher funding. If it is, the mediator will then invite you to participate in the scheme.

It is important to remember that you can only claim one voucher per case and it can only be spent on the cost of the actual mediation sessions, not the initial MIAM or preparation work. The scheme is funded by the Ministry of Justice but administered and delivered by the Family Mediation Council. At the end of the mediation you will be asked to complete a questionnaire for the FMC so that they can monitor how the vouchers are being used.

Both Jayne and Joanna at RWK Goodman are Family Mediation Council accredited mediators and are happy to talk through the voucher scheme with you. If you would like to get in touch please contact the office. family mediation voucher scheme



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *