UK Government Plans Mandatory Divorce Mediation

UK Government Plans Mandatory Divorce Mediation

Under new plans, separating couples in England and Wales will be required to seek mediation before attending court in a bid to ease demand for courts.

Under the plan, judges will be able to order parents to make reasonable attempts to mediate disputes. If they do not reasonably comply and are deemed to be harming a child’s well-being by prolonging proceedings, they may face a fine.

The planned requirement will only be applied to cases considered to be low-level. Those involving allegations or a history of domestic abuse will not require mandatory mediation. The Ministry of Justice believes that up to 19,000 currently active cases could be solved through mediation.

Rebecca Cockcroft, co-head of family law at Payne Hicks Beach, said: “Whilst the government’s plans are welcome, and will hopefully ease the burden on the extremely stretched family courts, there will always be cases that are not suitable for mediation, for example where one party is controlling or even violent and where mediation is unlikely to assist. In such instances access to the family courts will remain imperative.”
Deborah Jeff, Head of the Divorce and Family department at Simkins, also commented on the new proposal. “Anything that helps steer families away from the protracted and costly experience of litigating in the family justice system is welcome provided suitable screening is built in for domestic abuse cases,” she said.


“It’s only recently that domestic abuse in its various forms has been better recognised and understood in English family law and care must be taken not to undermine this with compulsory mediation. Encouragement through mediation for the parties to communicate directly in a safe and respectful mediation setting is otherwise a positive step, reducing costs and the impact of separation on all members of the family.” 

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