In denial - Ministers’ flagship family policy withering on the vine

Jane Robey
New figures show slump in family mediation starts 

Commenting on news that the number of couples starting family mediation has slumped by a quarter, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:

“Ministers need to wake up and understand their own flagship family policy is withering on the vine.

“The government made it a legal requirement in 2014 for separating couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) before applying for a court order. Yet the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency’s latest statistics show that ‘family mediation starts’ were 24 per cent lower in the April to June 2017 quarter, compared the same period in 2016.

“The number of MIAMs was down by a tenth on 2016, and the 1,600 mediation starts recorded is the lowest number since the 2014 Act that supposedly made the MIAM compulsory.

“Figures we at National Family Mediation obtained recently from a FOI request show that over 60 per cent of couples ignored the new law last year. Of nearly 90,000 applications for private law proceedings to a family court in 2016, only 35,627 had followed the supposedly ‘compulsory’ process.

“It’s meant to be compulsory for divorcing couples to seriously consider mediation to help them find amicable and constructive ways to resolve parenting, money and property disputes.

“Professional family mediators want to do what the government are going to do about the fact that most people are somehow sidestepping the law.

“By making the consideration of mediated settlements compulsory, the government’s aim was help tens of thousands of couples who separate each year save money, time and stress in making post-divorce arrangements.

“Ministers need to explain how they intend to address this. Until they do so the government is in denial on divorce.”