What is the family mediation voucher scheme?
On 26 March 2021, the government announced that it was investing £1m in family mediation to support families to resolve issues relating to children. Under the scheme, the Ministry of Justice is providing contributions of up to £500 per family to resolve issues relating to children following parental separation. The mediation sessions are provided by Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA) mediators and the fund will reduce the costs of mediation for at least 2,000 families.
John Taylor, Chair of the Family Mediation Council said:
This government investment in mediation is much welcomed by the Family Mediation Council. It will help separated families agree solutions that are best for their children, taking into account what is going to be important for them as they grow up. Family mediation is a proven cost-effective way to resolve differences following separation. This voucher scheme will make it even more accessible, and will help families resolve issues for themselves, without having to go to court.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator helps parents work out arrangements for children and finances following separation. Mediation can also be helpful when previous child arrangements need to change, particularly as children grow up.
Who is eligible for a mediation voucher?
A couple who are considering using mediation to resolve their family issue need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with an accredited mediator. The cost of this session is not covered by the voucher. The mediator will assess the issues that the couple is seeking to resolve to see if they are suitable for mediation and if they meet the eligibility requirements for the voucher scheme. The following cases are eligible for a mediation voucher:
- a dispute or application regarding a child
- a dispute or application regarding family financial matters which also involves a dispute or application relating to a child
How is the voucher claimed?
If the couple decide to proceed with mediation, and are eligible for the voucher, the mediator will apply for the voucher funding. The money is paid directly to the mediator once the mediation sessions have concluded. There is no physical voucher. Please bear in mind that the number of vouchers is limited: the vouchers will be offered to eligible parties until they are no longer available.
Will the voucher pay for all the mediation sessions?
The voucher is intended to be a contribution towards the cost of mediation. The rates charged by mediators vary and the number of sessions required will depend on the specific requirements of each couple. If the fees incurred exceed the value of the voucher, the difference will need to be paid to the mediator.
How can LSL Family Law help?
The director of LSL Family Law, Linda Lamb, is an accredited mediator with the Law Society and the Family Mediation Council. Linda is also qualified to provide child inclusive mediation. Linda has signed up to the voucher scheme and will let you know if you are eligible and if there are vouchers available. If you would like to know more about the voucher scheme and how mediation might be able to resolve your family issue, please call Linda on 01273 041011.