Mediating the Way Ahead

Following the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act coming into force on 1st April 2013 legal aid is no longer available for most family law cases unless there is evidence of domestic violence.

The impact of this change is yet to be fully understood but it is expected by many that the Court will become increasingly clogged up by unrepresented parties who, without the benefit of legal representation, will have little or no idea of how to conduct proceedings or prepare documents for Court.

In response to these concerns it is understood the Government favours alternative dispute resolution. This can be a less formal process and may avoid the need for further court proceedings.  Since April 2012 those seeking to make an application to the Family Court have already been required to consider mediation and at a minimum attended a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Mediation generally is seen by the Government as being capable of sharing the increased burden the reforms are expected to place on the Court. It is hoped that more couples attending mediation will result in less cases being brought to Court.

It appears therefore that mediation is now seen as being very much at the forefront of resolving family disputes. Finding a specialist family mediator who can quickly and objectively consider whether a case is suitable for mediation and, if so, conduct mediation in a professional and cost effective manner will be crucial in the future. Coley & Tilley has recognised this need and has a fully trained and MIAM accredited mediator. For more details either call Coley & Tilley on 0121 643 5531 or email at [email protected]