Separating couples are now increasingly likely to try to come to an agreement through mediation, rather than heading to court. That’s according to the latest report from National Family Mediation.
The dispute resolution specialists have seen the number of calls to their telephone helpline more than double over the past year. At the same time, figures show a big fall in the number of people beginning private law cases.
Changes to legal aid
In 2013, significant changes were introduced which removed legal aid from the majority of divorce, residence and child contact cases.
At the time, critics warned that the changes would be damaging to vulnerable families who would no longer be able to afford the legal advice they so desperately needed.
Adding to the financial pressure, only last month it was revealed that the cost of divorce is set to increase, with the government announcing that the basic fees couples must pay is to rise by a third.
Against this backdrop of cuts to legal aid, the fact that more and more people are turning to National Family Mediation is good news. Particularly as a study published only last year found that a staggering 45% of people were completely unaware of the routes available to help them dissolve their marriage out of court.
Hopefully the latest findings signify that people are at last becoming aware of the options available to them. Options such as collaborative law, mediation and solicitors negotiations.
However, the CEO of the National Family Mediation service herself has expressed some concern over the latest figures starting that: “The cuts to legal aid mean the routes separating couples are taking as they try to reach settlements are becoming more convoluted”.
Surely the last thing anyone needs at this difficult time is the added pressure of dealing with a complicated and complex divorce system?
In addition, with the number of “DIY” divorces apparently on the rise, more and more couples are opening themselves up to a potential magnitude of problems, where what seems like a cheap and quick way to separate, ends up with a necessary trip to a lawyer to unravel the mess.
What options are available to you?
The breakdown of a marriage is extremely difficult for everyone involved. With emotions running high, many people find it hard to agree on sensitive and contentious issues and it’s vital therefore, that both parties have access to professional legal support to help protect their best interests. Particularly in more complex cases and/or where children are involved.
Helping to make your divorce process as painless as possible. At Linder Myers we have created a handy guide with some key information and advice on the divorce process, and the necessary considerations, so you know what to expect when separating from your partner.
With information on the various options available to you, including mediation, collaborative divorce and litigation, we’ll help you weigh up the best option for you, so you can look forward to the future with confidence.Download the complete legal guide to divorce and separation Find out more about our Family department