National Family Dispute Resolution Week: 24th to 28th November 2014
As a mediator who is committed to doing whatever I can to assist couples to stay as far away from courts and legal disputes as possible, I am hopeful that you will already be aware of the third National Family Dispute Resolution Week from 24th to 28th November 2014, although I accept that there is a good chance that this article will be the first reference you have seen to this event.
I also appreciate that this article might even be the first time that you have considered that there are effective alternatives to court, including the use of mediation, arbitration and collaborative law but there are clear signs that these alternatives are rapidly moving into the mainstream, especially mediation.
For a start, the law change in April 2014 that made considering mediation compulsory prior to most family law court applications was a very positive step forwards and the recent Government announcements about promoting and strengthening the role of mediation indicate that the speed of change is set to increase. Then there is the important decision to start a proper accreditation system for family mediators, which is due to come into force on 1st January 2015, which will put pressure on all mediators to be properly qualified and to undertake all the steps required to remain accredited.
All of these positive developments have presented an incredibly good opportunity to broaden access to mediation and as part of this process this year’s National Family Dispute Resolution Week is a tremendous chance for everyone who is genuinely working in the best interests of separating couples and their children to shout from the rooftops about the many benefits of mediation, including the ability to save an awful lot of money, time and stress whilst also allowing people to take control of their own futures by reaching fair and lasting agreements.
I sincerely hope that this article will be just one of many mentions that you hear about this year’s National Family Dispute Resolution Week but, even if this is the only reference that you see, I hope that the message is clear that there are alternatives to legal action, that there is absolutely no need to go anywhere near a court for the vast majority of family law issues including divorce, children’s arrangements and financial settlements, that there is a need for the family law system to continue to reform and that talking to a mediator is almost always the most sensible first step to take.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about the mediation process and remember that it is never too late to mediate