At-Court Mediation pilot scheme improves level and quality of contact, says NFM
Charity calls for government-funded project to be extended
Data produced by National Family Mediation suggests that the At-Court Mediation pilot project is helping to improve the level and quality of contact with children.
At-Court Mediation, run by NFM in three pilot areas (Berkshire, Herefordshire and West Yorkshire), has provided one-to-one support for parents who had been separated for more than two years and were locked in the family court system. It helped them suspend legal proceedings and meet specialist mediators to negotiate long-term arrangements for children, property and finance.
NFM has analysed the results of its pre- and post-project evaluations, which saw 433 participants quizzed in a number of areas both before and after their involvement in At-Court Mediation.
NFM says that the analysis shows:
- 64% said the level or quality of contact with their children improved following the project
- There was a 37% overall reduction on the 'impact on children of the couples' conflict'
- A 32% reduction in level of conflict with their ex-partner was recorded
- There was a fall in recorded 'levels of stress' of some 37%.
The charity says that the project led to a remarkable improvement in the two parties' communication with each other. Before being involved in At-Court Mediation, parents marked their communication with their ex-partner at an average of 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. After the project the average had risen to 4.2 – an overall increase of 183 per cent.
NFM's Chief Executive, Jane Robey, said:
"Our ground-breaking project shows that with the right help, families entrenched in conflict can find an exit door from the heat of the court room, and move on with their lives in a positive way.
"Having funded the project, we look forward to government Ministers learning from and extending it, so that warring families in other parts of England and Wales can also reap the benefits."