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More separating couples to be spared court battles

From April, anyone setting out to contest the terms of their separation in court will first be required to consider mediation, under a new protocol agreed with the Judiciary.


This usually takes place through one mediation awareness session, where both parties find out what the process can offer before they decide if it is right for them, and replicates the system already in operation for couples granted legal aid. It will not apply to couples not planning to contest their terms in court.


Mediation is often quicker, cheaper and less confrontational than going to court. Research shows it can cost a quarter of the price and take a quarter of the time of going to court, and with two thirds of publicly funded mediation already resulting in full agreement it can ensure better results for families too.


For couples who have decided separation is the only course of action, mediation means they can decide the terms of their split between themselves, helped by a trained and impartial mediator, rather than fighting each other through lawyers, with a judge making the key decisions which will shape their lives.


If both parties choose mediation, they will continue down that route. However if the mediator or either party feel that mediation will not be suitable in the individual case, or there is a risk to anyone’s safety, they will be exempted and the case can continue towards court.

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