Family law experts at Taylor&Emmet LLP are welcoming the extension of funding that will allow more couples from across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire to access mediation.
The Ministry of Justice has made a further £800,000 available, in vouchers up to the value of £500, for participants in family mediation who are not eligible for legal aid.
Dawn Lowry, a family law expert at Taylor&Emmet’s Rotherham office and qualified mediator, said: “We are really pleased that this scheme, which was launched in March, is being extended and at the current run rate, the funding should last until mid-December. It has already benefited a number of local families who wished to use the mediation process to make arrangements for children and I hope it will now assist many more.”
Free mediation is available to individuals who qualify for legal aid, however, if their partner is funding the mediation privately, they are responsible for their fees from the second session onwards, which can cause disengagement. Using the voucher scheme, the private client can access additional funding, allowing them to continue with the process. In some circumstances, this may mean another two or three mediation sessions can be undertaken before payment is required and, in many cases, this would be sufficient to resolve the issues.
The voucher scheme is being coordinated by the Family Mediation Council and is accessible to all its accredited mediators. In cases where both parties are funding a separation privately, pre-mediation meetings, MIAMs, would be payable at £108 each, before the voucher could be applied. This should then fund two sessions, or one longer meeting, as required.
Dawn added: “Mediation has always been a cost-effective, quicker and less stressful alternative to court proceedings and this voucher scheme has made it even more so. I would urge anyone considering the process as a means of resolving child arrangements to act now, before the funding comes to an end.”
For more information about the Mediation Voucher Scheme and eligibility, contact Taylor&Emmet’s family law team on (0114) 218 4000, visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter, @TaylorEmmet.