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Relate welcomes announcement on free mediation sessions for separating couples

Free mediation session dependent on one party being legally aided

Relate has welcomed the announcement by the Ministry of Justice that more free mediation sessions will be funded by Government.

The announcement of a single mediation session for both parties if one of them is already legally aided is the latest stage of reforms to improve the family justice system and follows recommendations made by the independent Mediation Task Force. The recommendations the Government are taking forward include:

Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, said:

"We welcome the Government's renewed support for mediation as a better way to resolve disputes between separating couples. Family mediation services, such as those delivered by Relate, are facing a really difficult time and the Government's efforts to increase take up are to be welcomed. 

"Currently, many separating couples are confused about whether legal aid is available and we are worried that the most disadvantaged people who can't afford to pay privately are either staying in damaging partnerships because they believe they can't afford to separate, or are trying to cut legal fees by representing themselves in court.

"Funding one single mediation session for everyone (if one of the parties is already legally aided) and investing in raising public awareness about mediation and legal help for mediation will make a real difference for many separating couples.

"Mediation offers couples an out of court option to make arrangements around separation or divorce. An impartial mediator manages the process but the couple decide what arrangements to agree on. With two thirds of couples who started publicly funded mediation between April 2007 and March 2013 reaching agreements, it is an effective option which can reduce conflict and costly legal fees whilst improving communication between separating couples."