FLiP welcomes Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
On 26th March 2021 the Ministry of Justice launched the family mediation voucher scheme. This scheme offers a payment of up to £500 towards the costs of family mediation for eligible cases (largely those family mediations concerning parenting issues). In launching this scheme, the Government is not only raising the profile of family mediation as a better way to resolve disputes between parents, but it is also encouraging parents to find solutions to relationship disputes away from the courts rather than relying on a judge to make a decision.
The Ministry of Justice has committed £1,000,000 to the family mediation voucher scheme – but we know that this sum (large as it is) may not stretch far given the numbers involved and the sum of up to £500 which will be contributed towards the costs of each eligible mediation case.
As might be expected:
- There are conditions to be satisfied for eligibility; and
- A process to be gone through.
Further information on the family mediation voucher scheme is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/family-mediation-voucher-scheme#what-is-the-family-mediation-voucher-scheme
Conditions for eligibility:
- The mediation must involve parenting issues, though it looks as though you don’t actually need to have issued an application at court;
- You can only obtain the contribution towards the cost of the mediation sessions themselves, rather than to assist with finding out about whether mediation is the right place to settle your parenting issues (“the MIAM”);
- If your MIAM took place before 26th March 2021, then you are not eligible for the family mediation voucher scheme;
- You can only ever have one voucher; and
- You must agree to the release of information to the mediation regulatory body, The Family Mediation Council (FMC). This includes your name, the bill for mediation services you receive from the mediator and some basic information about your case.
As we understand it, the financial contribution available under the new scheme will not be available for mediations that are already underway nor will it be available for mediations which focus solely on deciding financial issues.
How do I apply for a mediation voucher?
At your MIAM, the mediator will discuss whether your case might be eligible for the family mediation voucher scheme. Not all cases are eligible under the scheme. The case types specified below are eligible for a mediation voucher:
- a dispute/application regarding a child;
- a dispute/application regarding family financial matters where you are also involved in a dispute/application relating to a child.
The voucher is intended to be a contribution towards mediation sessions. Your mediator will tell you their rates and how many sessions the voucher is likely to cover. As the total value of the voucher is £500, you may need to contribute to the overall cost of your sessions if you choose to continue with mediation.
How will the family mediation voucher scheme work at FLiP?
At Family Law in Partnership we are keen to support any opportunity to improve access to mediation. As with all FMC accredited mediators, it is only possible to register for this scheme on 1st April 2021. So, at this point, we are clarifying how best to manage this process and will have further news shortly.
Even without the family mediation voucher scheme, mediation is a great way to come to an agreement on your parenting arrangements if you can. It offers an opportunity to avoid the lengthy delays (and high costs) of litigation. If you are interested in learning more about mediation and how the team at FLiP can support you, please contact our mediation administrator Wendy Hoare at E: firstname.lastname@example.org.