News

19th April 2016

Most Couples Ignore Government Enforced Mediation Meetings When Citing Divorce

Research undertaken by National Family Mediation has found that the government’s promotion of mediation as the preferred method of overcoming parenting, financial and property related disputes has failed as approximately 95% of couples go straight to court.

Since 22nd April 2014, the Government have enforced that a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is the ‘compulsory’ procedure before a respective couple can file for a divorce. In spite of this, latest figures have shown that only 1 in 20 people follow the procedure outlined by the Government – which equates to fewer than 5,000 MIAMs from over 112,000 applications.

National Family Mediation Chief Executive, Jane Robey, said:

"By requiring separating couples to attend a mediation awareness meeting, the government's aim was to introduce a cheaper and less confrontational alternative to court. But with fewer than one in 20 of couples even attending the initial meeting, let alone following that route through to its conclusion, the law has failed.

"We genuinely welcomed the law change requiring couples to explore mediation as an alternative to combative court proceedings. We knew it could not transform the culture of divorce on its own, but these figures suggest even this small government step has flopped.

"National Family Mediation and the mediation community alone cannot change the entrenched culture of adversarial and expensive court proceedings in divorce cases. More government support is needed to inform, educate and publicise the fact that MIAMs are compulsory in order to ensure the law is properly enforced and much more mediation is delivered."

"It's not just that this is a law, the truth is that settlements negotiated through mediation offer a brighter future for separating families up and down the land."

"And given the well-publicised crisis of the clogged up family courts, one would think judges would have welcomed the changes and exercised their powers to take best advantage of the changes. That does not appear to be the case."

One of our Family Solicitors and Head of Family Mediation, Adrian Rose, gave his own view on the matter:

“I share the views that Jane has set so clearly. We, in the mediation profession, hoped that the introduction of MIAMs would provide the opportunity to enable parties to receive information about how to resolve disputes in a cost effective and timely way. Whilst not suitable for all disputes, the figures released show that this is an opportunity missed when family mediation can offer a real and worthwhile alternative to expensive and lengthy Court proceedings.”

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