In a week when divorce law has been in the news a considerable amount, experts have spoken up to promote the place of mediation in modern separations.
It seems that the Government is listening, as this week it announced plans to double the current £10m annual budget for publicly funded mediation services.
Divorce has been in the news this week after the Government announced plans to change the law relating to the custody arrangements for couples after a divorce. The proposals would see the Children's Act amended to include some form of a presumption of equal parenting. This would see fathers, who at present are often marginalised in contact agreements, given additional access to their children.
Divorce proceedings are inherently messy and complicated. The crucial matters which cause most grievance and heartache involve children, and the family home. Typically cases are decided by discussion, agreement and then, in the event of an impasse, the court makes a ruling.
Mediation is a legal process in which parties to divorce come together with a qualified mediator in order to work through disagreements. The Government is keen to promote mediation as a way of relieving the burden on the courts.
The additional funding announced this week will fund an expansion in the provision of publicly funded mediation services, as well as providing for a new website to promote mediation, and there are now plans to launch a telephone helpline in 2013.
This extra funding comes alongside plans to make it a mandatory requirement for separating parents to first see a mediator, before any dispute could proceed to court.
"The reform of family justice and child protection is a critical priority for Government. Our reforms [include] more use of mediation, more effective court processes and more efficient provision of advice [to] help to create a family justice system which can better resolve these difficult emotional problems in the best interests of children and families," said Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke.
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