The Ministry of Justice has recently announced the launch of a family mediation voucher scheme.  This is a scheme where the Ministry of Justice will pay up to £500 towards the mediation costs where the parents are separating and they decide to use family mediation to try and come to an agreement.

The Ministry of Justice are hoping that this funding will help separating parents resolve their disputes outside of the Court and help alleviate the impact Covid-19 has had on the family courts.

Our experienced Family Mediator, Richard Buckley, commented “We welcome this additional funding to help families access the significant benefits of family mediation.  This is especially important in the current climate, where the family courts are finding it very difficult to deal with the number of applications that they are receiving, leading to some significant delays.  Lupton Fawcett are pleased to be able to offer their mediation clients access to this voucher scheme.”

The Government has limited the funds available to £1m and it appears that this will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

If you think that you could benefit from this scheme and are interested in finding out more information about our mediation services, then please contact our Family Mediator, Richard Buckley, at Richard.buckley@luptonfawcett.law or 0114 228 3293.

I would highly recommend Richard (Buckley) at Lupton Fawcett. He understood the difficult and sensitive nature of divorce and was reassuring and professional throughout. He explained the process clearly from the start and was always quick to respond

Charlotte H

“I would like to thank you [Richard Buckley] for your honest and expert advice. Working with you has been invaluable to me in terms of understanding the legalities concerned with matrimonial matters. I would not hesitate to recommend you to others.”

Helen Stead

Many thanks for all your help (Richard Buckley) and professional guidance throughout this challenging process. I have found your advice and tact through my divorce very helpful providing a well balanced view on all matters and situations that occurred some of them unforeseen and you always helped me to reach the best decision possible. Good luck with everything in the future and I will recommend your services to anyone.

Andy North

The service we received was excellent and we were impressed by your professional and sympathetic approach. It was good to understand the processes involved in what was a complex case. In comparison to the responding solicitors, we were very impressed by the detail of your letters and the care in which you took to represent our concerns. Should the need arise in the future, we would have no hesitation in contacting you. Thank you once again for your guidance and support Richard (Buckley).

Mr and Mrs Davis

You have been outstanding on getting this total nightmare resolved! And I applaud you whole heartedly.

Casey Munday

Lupton Fawcett’s Family team, in particular Richard Buckley, have consistently provided a service that was not only strong, balanced and responsive but also never lost sight of the deeply personal and emotional nature of my case.

Mr Shaw

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I still need to go to court?

The aim of mediation is to resolve matters without the need to go to court. Mediation has a high success rate of helping separated couples reach an agreement and therefore there would be no need to attend court.

Often in financial matters, as part of a divorce, it will be necessary for solicitors to prepare a document called a Consent Order, which details the agreement you have reached in mediation. This needs to be sent to court for a Judge to endorse for it to become a legally binding agreement but usually there is no need for you to have to attend court at any stage.

What technology do I need for Online Mediation?

We prefer to use Microsoft Teams for online mediations as it is really easy to use and ensures our meetings are confidential. We send you a link for the meeting by email. You may need to download a free App in advance of the meeting.

You will need a secure internet connection and a computer, laptop or tablet with a camera and microphone. You can use a smartphone if you wish, but having a larger screen is preferable as we often share documents that you will need to be able to view.

I wasn’t married to my ex partner, can we still use mediation?

Yes, mediation is suitable for any couples who have separated and have things that need sorting out as a result of their separation. Mediation is suitable if you were not married, in a same-sex relationship and/or civil partnership. We also have experience mediating in cases between grandparents and parents or other family members.

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative law? Which is best?

There are many similarities between mediation and collaborative law. They both provide a way of supporting couples who have separated talk in an amicable and constructive way about the issues that need resolving as a result of their breakup, such as the arrangements for their children and issues around finances.

A mediator is impartial and therefore cannot give legal advice, whereas in the collaborative process you each appoint your own collaborative lawyer who is then able to give you legal advice and support. Please see our pages on collaborative law and mediation for more information.

Neither option is better than the other. There are advantages of both options so it is about deciding on what is best for you and your family in your particular circumstances. Richard Buckley is an experienced mediator and collaborative lawyer so fully appreciates the benefits of both options and is happy to discuss any questions you have about each option.

What is a Memorandum of Understanding and an Open Financial Summary?

These are summary documents prepared by the mediator usually following the successful conclusion of mediation. They are designed to help you have all the information provided in mediation and a summary of the agreement reached. They will also help lawyers advise you on the proposed agreement and prepare the documents necessary to implement that agreement.

The Open Financial Summary is prepared in financial matters and sets out the financial disclosure, usually with supporting documentation, that you and your ex-partner have provided to the mediator during the course of mediation.

The Memorandum of Understanding is a summary of the discussions and proposals for agreement that you are making. It is a without prejudice document which means it does not form a legally binding agreement and cannot be shown to court.

Are the agreements legally binding?

Any agreements reached in mediation are not legally binding. As you are likely to be discussing issues that are very important to you and have significant long term consequences it is only right and necessary that you have the opportunity of discussing your proposals with a legal advisor before making the agreement legally binding. At the conclusion of the mediation the mediator will prepare summary documents setting out what is being proposed to help them advise you and incorporate any agreement into a legally binding document, if necessary.

I am worried about seeing my ex partner again, is mediation suitable? Do we have to be in the same room/online meeting?

Firstly, it is entirely normal for there to be nerves about engaging in mediation whether you haven’t seen your ex since separation or you see them regularly. Part of the mediator’s role is to support you through the mediation and ensure the pace of the meeting is right for you and your ex.

Usually mediation takes place with both of you and the mediator all in the same room but if you do not want to sit in the same room together then we can arrange a “shuttle mediation” where you will each have a separate room and the mediator will travel between the two.

For some people, having the mediation take place online makes them feel more comfortable seeing and talking with their former partner so this might be a good option for you.

Sometimes it is helpful for separated couples to be in separate rooms and for the mediator to go between the two rooms. We are able to offer this facility for online mediations as well – the mediator can put you and your ex partner in separate virtual meeting rooms.

There are some circumstances where mediation is not appropriate but this can be talked through with the mediator during the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, which is a confidential meeting between you and the mediator.

What if my ex doesn’t want to mediate?

Mediation, whether online or face-to-face, is voluntary so we cannot force anyone to engage with mediation unless they chose to. However, we are always happy to provide information and speak with anyone about mediation and address any concerns they may have before the commit to mediation.

What is a MIAM?

A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is usually your first meeting with the mediator. You attend this meeting on your own and not with your ex-partner. During the meeting the mediator will explain the mediation process to you and answer any questions you may have. It is also an opportunity for the mediator for find out about you and your circumstances so that they can assess whether mediation is suitable and also understand what you are hoping to achieve out of mediation. Following the MIAM you should be in a position to make an informed decision about whether you wish to proceed with mediation.

Do I have to come to mediation before court?

In most cases relating to arrangements for children or financial matters, the family court proceedings may not be started unless, at the very least, you have attended a MIAM, unless an exemption applies. If mediation is considered unsuitable then the mediator can sign a form for you at this stage which will allow you to proceed with your court application. Mediation is voluntary and therefore there is no obligation for you to proceed with mediation following the MIAM if you do not want to.

How long does mediation take?

This really depends on you and your ex-partner and how complex the issues are that you wish to resolve. Generally, if you are discussing either only issues around children or finances then this can be resolved, on average, in 2 or 4 joint sessions of 90 minutes each.

One of the big advantages of mediation is that it can go at your pace. If you want a number of meetings in quick succession then we can arrange this for you. If you prefer to space the meetings out to give time to reflect on the issues discussed, then this is fine too.

Being able to offer online mediation often means it is easier to find a time when everyone is available because there is no need to plan in travel time, so online mediation can sometimes be concluded quicker than face-to-face mediations.

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