New figures show slump in family mediation starts 
 
Commenting on news that the number of couples starting family mediation has slumped by a quarter, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:
 
“Ministers need to wake up and understand their own flagship family policy is withering on the vine. 
 
“The government made it a legal requirement in 2014 for separating couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) before applying for a court order. Yet the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency’s latest statistics show that ‘family mediation starts’ were 24 per cent lower in the April to June 2017 quarter, compared the same period in 2016.
 
“The number of MIAMs was down by a tenth on 2016, and the 1,600 mediation starts recorded is the lowest number since the 2014 Act that supposedly made the MIAM compulsory.
 
“Figures we at National Family Mediation obtained recently from a FOI request show that over 60 per cent of couples ignored the new law last year. Of nearly 90,000 applications for private law proceedings to a family court in 2016, only 35,627 had followed the supposedly ‘compulsory’ process.
 
“It’s meant to be compulsory for divorcing couples to seriously consider mediation to help them find amicable and constructive ways to resolve parenting, money and property disputes. 
 
“Professional family mediators want to do what the government are going to do about the fact that most people are somehow sidestepping the law.
 
“By making the consideration of mediated settlements compulsory, the government’s aim was help tens of thousands of couples who separate each year save money, time and stress in making post-divorce arrangements.
 
“Ministers need to explain how they intend to address this. Until they do so the government is in denial on divorce.”
 
Notes:
 
1. In April 2014, the Children and Families Act placed a statutory requirement on applicants in relevant family proceedings to first attend a MIAM before making an application to court, apart from relatively rare cases where an exemption applies.
 
2. The latest Legal Aid Statistics Quarterly bulletin from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency shows that in  family mediation, Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) were down by 11% in the last quarter compared to the previous year and currently stand at around a third of pre-2014 levels. There were 1,600 mediation starts between April and June 2017, which is the lowest number since the 2014 Act was introduced. The Bulletin can be seen in full using this link
 
3. NFM figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice, which can be downloaded in full here

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