New measures are being put in place to support separating couples at the time of year when the number of people considering separation and divorce is at its peak.
The Government expects to spend an additional £10 million this year on legal aid for mediation, taking the total spent to £25 million, and want to ensure that couples who decide to separate give consideration to using the process. In recent years a greater number of people have been successfully using mediation - where they are helped to agree the issues between themselves rather than argue it out through lawyers with a judge taking the final decisions.
Experts say the post-Christmas period is when the most enquiries about separation and divorce are made - so much so that the first working day in January is dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by many in the legal sector.
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said:
‘Going through a divorce or separation can be an emotionally draining and stressful time for everyone involved, especially for children.
‘All too often money is wasted on expensive and traumatic court hearings that can take far too long to resolve - and that is why we want to help people to use mediation, a quicker and simpler approach which brings better outcomes.’
Mediation is a quicker, simpler and more effective way of agreeing how couples divide their assets or arrange child contact, which avoids the traumatic and divisive effect of courtroom battles.