All good things must come to an end…

…but the good news is that free family mediation is here to stay – for a little longer anyway.

The FMC sent out the good news to its accredited mediators on 31 August, confirming that the Ministry of Justice has made a further £800,000 available in family mediation vouchers.   This is now almost double the total funding the Government had promised at the outset.  It’s fantastic news.  As mediators we hoped for a slight extension of time and/or funds, but this is significant.  The Government is understood to have been impressed by the data gathered from the original tranche of funding; 75% of cases that progress ending up with full or partial agreement and many either moving away from court or deciding it was no longer necessary. 

The FMC estimates this further voucher funding will be available until December 2021 and means that many, many more families will experience the benefits of family mediation.  Instead of having to resort to the clogged-up court system, parents can talk individually and collectively with a specially trained mediator; to help iron out what is causing problems and together come to a workable set of arrangements for their children.  Children who are old enough can be involved too, making sure all family members have their voices heard so decisions that are reached feel right and workable for everyone. 

I’ve been working with the scheme for 5 months now and am delighted with the progress made.  Here are some recent highlights:

  • One family have had two mediation sessions in as many weeks, having had a court hearing in early July which failed for technical problems and who are still waiting for their next court date to be listed.  They are making great progress in the mediation environment compared to litigation.
  • I’ve done numerous calendars with clients covering the academic year 2021/2022; the relief this brings of knowing arrangements are sorted is evident in the session. 
  • I met with a brother and sister whose parents just couldn’t work out where they should spend their time, how they would fit in all their activities and have some separate time with each child once they were in two houses.  The kids came up with some great suggestions, Mum and Dad listened, and now it’s all resolved.

The voucher scheme is really helping to make these solutions possible, and families can move forward.  There are other signs that the Government is committed to moving family disputes away from a court room, including new no-blame divorce (from April 2022) and more support for those suffering domestic abuse.

As an FMC accredited mediator, I’m all signed up and delighted to continue participating in the scheme.  It’s easy for clients – only one form to complete.  If you would like to see whether family mediation could help you and your family move forward, please contact us here, mentioning the voucher scheme, and we will get you started.