Is compulsory mediation a waste of time?
New figures from National Family Mediation show that a shocking 95% of separating couples are bypassing compulsory mediation meetings and heading straight to court. LGFL Partner Anne Leiper discusses why this is not only illegal, but also a lost opportunity.
I find it a great shame that so many separating couples are bypassing a system directly set up to make divorce less stressful for them and their families. As a trained mediator myself, I know this represents a lost opportunity for parents and children to avoid the high levels of emotional stress, trauma and family disruption that protracted court battles can create.
Since April 2014, separating couples are obliged to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before applying for a court order. However, the NFM figures shows that from 112,000 applications in 2014/2015, only 5,000 cases followed the official route via a MIAM.
In providing mediator services to divorcing clients, I’ve seen first hand how it offers a less confrontational alternative to court appearances. By allowing parties to explore options in the presence of a third party, it definitely takes some of the heat and steam out of the process.
Mediation also seems to help children through divorce better too by reducing inter-parent tensions in a non-courtroom setting. The National Family Mediation Chief Executive, Jane Robey, stated that:
“It’s not just that this (MIAM) is a law, the truth is that settlements negotiated through mediation offer a brighter future for separating families up and down the land.”
Surely that chance for a “brighter future” is worth taking, even if ultimately the case does end up in court. Far better to take just a couple of hours out to discuss the situation than to slog it out from square one in court, with all the time and expense associated.
If you’re confused about the role of mediation in divorce cases, call us. We offer a free in-person 30 mins consultation to anyone living within a 50 mile radius of our offices. Just call us to make an appointment, no obligation.