Welcome for increase in mediation

A family law expert has welcomed figures which indicate divorcing couples are turning to mediation as an alternative to court.

Ann Hallmark, solicitor in the Family team at Napthens, points to the recent statistics from National Family Mediation, the largest provider of such services in England and Wales.

The organisation has revealed that calls to its helplines have increased to 3,400 in the first half of 2015, compared to 1,600 during the same period in 2014.

Ann welcomes the figures as a sign the Government’s drive to encourage mediation in divorce cases is having an impact.

She said: “Legal aid was recently abolished for the vast majority of family cases. It was feared that many couples would see mediation as an expensive alternative and figures might actually fall.

“However, we can see from this report that it is still seen as a respected alternative to the courts for resolving issues during a divorce.

“This may also be because the court system is often very stretched, and many people are hearing of the long delays involved and consider mediation the best option. Solicitors regularly refer cases to mediation before court proceedings are issued.

“I would urge divorcing couples to always seek out alternatives, particularly where children are involved, and use a solicitor to do this. “Solicitors can help explore all available options and help people understand what is open to them.”