Rise in demand for divorce help mirrors fall in private court proceedings

Instead of heading off to court to settle their divorce, separating couples now ‘cogitate, calculate and consider’ their options, according to dispute resolution specialists at a leading family charity.

Staff at National Family Mediation have seen the number of calls to their telephone helpline more than double in the past year, as figures from children’s court advisory service Cafcass show big falls in numbers of people beginning private law cases in court during a similar period.

Whilst the number of new private law cases fell by almost a third between April 2014 and March 2015, National Family Mediation took an average of over 3,400 calls in each month from January and June 2015, up from 1,600 calls each month during the same period in 2014.

“The cuts to legal aid mean the routes separating couples are taking as they try to reach settlements are becoming more convoluted,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation.

“Before the legal aid cuts, solicitors would very often provide separating couples with some legal advice, and refer them to family mediation to reach vital settlements on property, finance and parenting.

“It may be that the government’s policy, to divert people away from the legal process to mediate instead, is actually beginning to work. Couples are increasingly self-researching their options, and this is reflected the huge increase in calls to dispute resolution specialists on our 0300 4000 636 telephone helpline.

“Our experience tells us people are cogitating, calculating and considering their next move. Our experts are helping more families in crisis than ever before and it’s a challenge to meet the soaring demand.”

National Family Mediation’s expert professionals help separating couples agree settlements on property, finance and parenting issues without the need for a courtroom battle. They achieve full agreement in over 80 per cent of cases.

People who want to find out more about how family mediation can help them after divorce or separation can call 0300 4000 636 or visit www.nfm.org.uk.

Cafcass statistics showing the numbers of new private law cases can be found here.