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Shortage of mediators ‘could affect separating couples’

A shortage of properly accredited mediators could cause problems for separating couples, according to the family lawyers’ group, Resolution.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly recently announced that all couples will have to see a mediator to find out if mediation could help them before they’re allowed to go to court to resolve disputes.

The Chairman of Resolution, David Allison, says there is a shortage of properly accredited mediators and so there may not be enough to meet the expected demand. He also believes the Government made a mistake by not specifying that the mediators had to be accredited.

He said: "While most people will seek legal advice first and be directed to properly trained and accredited mediators, members of the public on their own may be fooled into going to an unqualified mediator.

"Mediation is a hugely valuable option for some separating couples, so increased awareness of it as a non-court option is good news. But the Government has rushed headlong into these changes in an unplanned way, which has led to some worrying flaws."

A survey of Resolution members showed that family lawyers were unanimous in believing that the Government announcement on mediation didn’t go far enough and separating couples should also be given information about other ways they can resolve their differences.

Resolution believes that collaborative law, parenting information programmes and solicitor negotiation should also be included in information on alternatives to going to court.

Allison said: "Mediation is not suitable in all cases, and the best option will depend on individual circumstances. We should also remember that for some couples court is the right option, including when there is domestic abuse, intimidation or an imbalance of financial power."

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