The UK government has abandoned plans to mandate mediation for separating couples in family disputes, citing concerns about safeguards for victims of domestic abuse. Instead, the Ministry of Justice will collaborate with the Family Mediation Council to enhance mediator training on abuse identification.
The ministry highlighted the success of its mediation voucher scheme, benefiting over 24,600 families. Additionally, a legal advice pilot aims to expedite child arrangement agreements, while a problem-solving approach, initially piloted in North Wales and Dorset for cases involving abuse or substance misuse, will expand to family courts in Birmingham and South-East Wales. Judges will gain powers to encourage mediation more forcefully, with a practice direction update effective from April.
The Law Society welcomed the voluntary mediation approach, highlighting the importance of early legal advice. The Family Mediation Council and the president of the family division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, expressed support for the government's initiatives to help families resolve disputes outside the courtroom.
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