Ed Balls has this week proposed that anyone going through divorce proceedings must attempt mediation before going to court. Legal aid clients already have to prove they have attempted mediation before gaining access to public money for court proceedings.
If adopted, these measures would change the face of Family Law proceedings, involving divorce as well as child custody battles and other acrimonious issues such as alimony and the division of assets.
A Family Law Solicitor at City firm MacIntyre Clark LLP gives this helpful definition of Mediation:
Mediation is also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mediation involves two parties meeting with their lawyers to thrash out an agreement and meet consensus without going to court. Successful resolution depends on many factors and not just an ability to get on with each other.
Coming out as a supporter of Mediation, Ed Balls this week stated he believes that mediation is better for children of warring couples and limits the negative impact on children.
With online parenting advice and leaflets distributed by the government it appears the government enjoys telling parents whats best for their children. Indeed, Ed Balls conceded that although family disputes are private matters, he still feels qualified to recommend legislation to help families resolve conflict.
The crux of the matter is more likely to be the economic benefits of non acrimonious disputes. With all the costs and acrimony involved in court proceedings, ministers are able to save thousands of pounds when they enforce warring parents on legal aid into mediation.
The comments come as a result of the new Families and Relationships Green paper; a governmental research paper aiming to explore ways to reduce family conflict.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, made the following statement:
Research shows that children adjust to family breakdown better when a couple maintain working relations following a separation. The review is about making sure the justice system helps parents to achieve this.
A Family Law Solicitor at City firm MacIntyre Clark LLP commented:
Mediation is not always successful however, nor is all court proceedings acrimonious. Sometimes it is simply more practical to go to court or it is necessary due to the complicated nature of the case or for the division of multiple assets.
For example, the Resolution Group represents Family Law Solicitors in the UK and promotes responsible behaviour for Solicitors. The Group is remaining diplomatic, and stated families should be given a choice between mediation and court proceedings. I am more inclined to follow their view.
If you would like to speak to someone about Divorce Rights, Divorce costs, Child Custody, Child Access or if anything in this article affects you, please contact the specialist Family Division of MaIntyre Clark LLP, The Family Solicitors.