For many, the stress and expense of litigating within the UK family court can seem excessive, even to the point of outweighing what is gained through resolution.
In this feature, Buckles Solicitors senior associate Sonia Rola takes a look at what mediation stands to offer instead. Can it be an effective solution for families who may not otherwise have their disputes heard?
16 January marked the first day of Family Mediation Week, which is an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits it can bring to those who have made the decision to end a formal relationship. Family mediation helps people take control, make decisions together and build a positive future for their family, whilst reducing the potential for hostility.
Family Mediation Just Makes Sense
Unless there is a safeguarding issue – namely unless you are at a risk of life or limb – now more than ever you should consider almost anything but the family courts, especially when it comes to children law applications. A children law application will inevitably cause further delay and add to the cost (if you can afford legal representation).
In a recent poll by Resolution, a membership organization for family law professionals committed to working in a constructive way, over half of the family lawyers surveyed said it now takes an average of between one and two years to resolve family disputes after making an initial children law court application. That time delay could lead to serious consequences to the overall outcome of a court’s decision, especially due to the status quo that may have been developed in the meantime whilst a parent waited for a final hearing.
“New data from HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has once again highlighted the devastating delays and backlogs that continue to hamper the family courts,” the Divorce Surgery UK said in a 2022 release. “As of September, the backlog is sitting at 110,425 cases – a 2% month-on-month increase. This is also a striking increase of 6.4% from the figure of 103,790 seen in September 2021.”
Children Law Applications Make the Case for Mediation
When parents embark on the uncharted waters that are contested children law applications, this may further damage what is probably an already hostile environment within a separating family.
Whilst parents fight it out during the court process, i.e. by asking a stranger to decide on their private family life instead of making their own decision, parents may also risk losing or indeed lose the possibility of there being any future positive communication with one another. This situation, at least in the short term, will inevitably impact your child and cause further unnecessary stress and anxiety to all concerned. No child is built for conflict; they should be allowed to just be children, unburdened.
Read the complete article here.
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