The number of divorcing couples entering pre-court mediation is down by a third because of cuts in legal aid for lawyers. It has been observed that the only route left to obtain legal aid for lawyers is to make allegations of violence or abuse.
Thousands of divorcing couples and their children are now heading straight to court.
Mediation is an alternative system designed to help families reach agreement over their property and children’s upbringing without going to court.
The number of couples inquiring about formal mediation has halved since the cuts came into force in April, with the number of couples entering mediation down by a third. The difference made up by self funding.
The numbers of people applying directly to courts has exploded, often without the help of a lawyer, for rulings on contentious and complex issues such as contact with their children.
However, legal aid funding is still available for mediation. Because the lawyers don’t get paid for it, they are not referring people to mediation. Perhaps a court inspired scheme to inform people about mediation is necessary.
The phone number for legal aid is 0845 345 4 345.