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MoJ encouraged to extend family mediation voucher scheme

By April 4, 2022Family, Government

A top family practitioner has requested the government to prolong a voucher scheme designed to support the use of mediation to settle family disputes outside of court, after referrals plummeted after the 2013 legal aid cuts.

The Ministry of Justice launched the £1m voucher scheme last March, and it was extended with an additional £800,000 in August.

A member of the Law Society’s family law committee, Solicitor Jo O’Sullivan, informed a webinar this month that approximately 6,608 vouchers have been issued, and around 400 are left to hand out until the end of this month.

‘There has been no word yet about an extension. We’re all hoping there will be an extension,’ she informed the webinar, hosted by co-parenting support service Our Family Wizard.

The ministry confirmed that by 13 March, 6,850 families have benefited from the scheme and the department anticipates 7,000 will have used it by the end of the financial year. It has been suggested by Family Mediation Council survey data that 65% of separated parents reached a partial or whole agreement, and did not attend court. An additional 3% only needed to attend court to secure a consent order to formalise their agreement.

An MoJ spokesperson stated: ‘We launched this scheme to spare more children and parents the stress of courtroom battles and are thrilled to see nearly 7,000 families have benefited from our vouchers. The popularity of the scheme has helped ease pressure on the courts and any announcements on funding will be made in due course.’

Dominic Raab, Justice secretary has made apparent he hopes to see more family disputes resolved outside ofcourt.

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