Government Announcement re PAP Feb 2011 - Absolute Family - Divorce Family Law Solicitors and Mediators, Sheffield, Yorkshire

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Government Announcement re PAP Feb 2011

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Government Announcement re PAP - 23rd February 2011

Press release from Atul Sharda:

From 6 April separating couples must assess whether mediation would be a better way of resolving their disputes than battling over them in court. Anyone setting out to contest the terms of their separation in court will first be required to consider mediation, under a new protocol agreed with the Judiciary.

This usually takes place through one mediation awareness session, where both parties find out what the process can offer before they decide if it is right for them, and replicates the system already in operation for couples granted legal aid. It will not apply to couples not planning to contest their terms in court.

Mediation is often quicker, cheaper and less confrontational than going to court. Research shows it can cost a quarter of the price and take a quarter of the time of going to court, and with two thirds of publicly funded mediation already resulting in full agreement it can ensure better results for families too.

For couples who have decided separation is the only course of action, mediation means they can decide the terms of their split between themselves, helped by a trained and impartial mediator, rather than fighting each other through lawyers, with a judge making the key decisions which will shape their lives.

Currently many people repeatedly go to court to argue over matters they are better placed to sort out themselves - like securing 30 minutes extra contact time or varying their allocated contact days. This is expensive and emotionally draining for all concerned. Parents are best placed to resolve these types of issues and mediation can help them do this.

In serious circumstances - such as allegations of domestic violence or child protection - there will be no requirement to access mediation and the case will progress straight to court. If both parties choose mediation, they will continue down that route. However if the mediator or either party feel that mediation will not be suitable in the individual case, or there is a risk toa nyone's safety, they will be exempted and the case can continue towards court.

Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: "Nearly every time I ask someone if their stressful divorce battle through the courts was worth it, their answer is no. Mediation is a quicker, cheaper and more amicable alternative, particularly where children are concerned. Mediation already helps thousands of legally-aided people across England and Wales every year, but I am concerned those funding their own court actions are missing out on the benefits it can bring. Now everyone will have the opportunity to see if it could be a better solution than going straight to court."

Notes: National Audit Office figures on legally-aided mediation show that the average time for a mediated case to be completed is 110 days, compared to 435 days for court cases on similar issues. Mediation is also often cheaper than going to court - data from Legal Aid cases show the average cost per client of mediation is £535 compared to £2,823 for cases going to court.

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