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Divorcing Couples Turn Away from Mediation

Suzy Hamshaw - Divorce Specialist, Family Law Expert and Financial Claims on Divorce

Suzy Hamshaw

Divorcing couples are turning their backs on mediation and once again resorting to the courts to sort out their divorce, says Newbury lawyer, Suzy Hamshaw.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that between April – June 2013, the number of divorcing couples attending a mediation information and assessment meeting fell by 47 per cent, compared to the same period in 2012.

Additionally, the number of couples starting family mediation sessions fell by 26 per cent over the same period.

Suzy Hamshaw, a family law specialist with Newbury firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, says the fall in mediation coincides with cuts to the Government’s legal aid budget which has meant legal aid is now only available to divorcing couples in cases where domestic violence is involved.

“The numbers show that the Government has achieved exactly the opposite of what it intended to do,” says Suzy Hamshaw. “The intention was to persuade couples to attempt mediation before applying to the court. However, by this stage it is often too late in the process.

“It also failed to appreciate that many couples are only made aware of mediation when they visit a solicitor, who can act as the middleman in getting the mediation process underway. Due to the absence of legal aid, fewer people are seeking the advice of a solicitor.”

Statistics show mediation can be a quicker and more cost effective way of settling divorce cases with a high success rate of 85 per cent. Agreements reached via mediation are also likely to last longer than those made in courts. However, to be successful it has to take place at the right time and the parties need to have the benefit of legal advice to ensure any agreements are fair.

“With the cuts in legal aid , many people no longer have access to legal advice and have fewer options – this is resulting in more applications to the court, often with people acting as litigants in person,” added Suzy Hamshaw.

“Mediation is not a cure for all – but its benefits should not be overlooked and the need for legal advice at an early stage is essential .”

For further information contact Suzy Hamshaw on 01635 521212 or suzy.hamshaw@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Suzy Hamshaw

December 9th, 2014 at 11:58 am